The main olfactory epithelium (MOE) in the mammalian nasal cavity serves two distinct functions. First, the MOE detects almost an infinite number of airborne odor molecules and initiates the sense of smell. Second, the MOE metabolizes and removes inhaled xenobiotics, which include high levels of odorous irritants, air pollutants and microorganisms. This latter, epithelial defense function is critically important, no only for maintaining the proper function of the MOE, but also for protecting vital organs, such as the lower airway, lungs and brain by limiting xenobiotic access to these organs. However, fundamental information about mechanisms of xenobiotic detection and the subsequent pathways coordinating MOE defense is missing, which limits our understanding of olfactory dysfunction in respiratory diseases associated with xenobiotic insults. We recently have identified a population of transient receptor potential M5-expressing microvillous cells (trpM5-MCs) in the MOE. Our initial study shows that trpM5-MCs are chemosensitive and cholinergic, meaning they are capable of releasing acetylcholine (ACh) to modulate intracellular Ca2+ levels of neighboring supporting cells. We hypothesize that trpM5-MCs detect xenobiotics and subsequently coordinate activities of the MOE defense network. We will test this central hypothesis by pursuing the following four specific aims.
Aim 1 will determine the response profiles of trpM5-MCs and the key elements necessary for xenobiotic detection.
Aims 2 and 3 will characterize intracellular and intercellular pathways that allow trpM5-MCs to coordinate and regulate MOE defense network activities.
Aim 4 will determine morphological and functional deficits in the MOE of mice with defective trpM5-MCs. The rationale for the proposed research is that knowledge of the mechanisms of xenobiotic detection and the pathways leading to regulation of xenobiotic clearance is important for the understanding of epithelial defense and will enable innovative approaches to target the initial development of xenobiotic-associated respiratory diseases. We expect to obtain fundamental knowledge about xenobiotic detection mechanisms and subsequent pathways that coordinate and regulate MOE defense. We also expect that defects in xenobiotic detection in trpM5-MCs will impair the MOE defense network, resulting in structural and functional deficits in the epithelium. This proposed research is innovative, because it represents a new approach to understand the relationship between xenobiotic exposure and respiratory diseases. The significance of these studies is that they lay the groundwork for future research on xenobiotic-induced pathological changes that may ultimately lead to new treatments for xenobiotic exposure-related olfactory dysfunction and respiratory diseases.

Public Health Relevance

The proposed research is relevant to public health because the research findings on mechanisms and pathways underlying xenobiotic detection provide fundamental knowledge on airway epithelial defense and tissue protection. This knowledge is expected to increase understanding of the early development of xenobiotic related airway diseases.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Program Officer
Sullivan, Susan L
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of Maryland Balt CO Campus
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
Zip Code
Fu, Ziying; Ogura, Tatsuya; Luo, Wangmei et al. (2018) ATP and Odor Mixture Activate TRPM5-Expressing Microvillous Cells and Potentially Induce Acetylcholine Release to Enhance Supporting Cell Endocytosis in Mouse Main Olfactory Epithelium. Front Cell Neurosci 12:71
AlMatrouk, Abdullah; Lemons, Kayla; Ogura, Tatsuya et al. (2018) Chemical Exposure-Induced Changes in the Expression of Neurotrophins and Their Receptors in the Main Olfactory System of Mice Lacking TRPM5-Expressing Microvillous Cells. Int J Mol Sci 19:
Oboti, Livio; Trova, Sara; Schellino, Roberta et al. (2017) Activity Dependent Modulation of Granule Cell Survival in the Accessory Olfactory Bulb at Puberty. Front Neuroanat 11:44
Lemons, Kayla; Fu, Ziying; Aoudé, Imad et al. (2017) Lack of TRPM5-Expressing Microvillous Cells in Mouse Main Olfactory Epithelium Leads to Impaired Odor-Evoked Responses and Olfactory-Guided Behavior in a Challenging Chemical Environment. eNeuro 4:
Marking, Sarah; Krosnowski, Kurt; Ogura, Tatsuya et al. (2017) Dichotomous Distribution of Putative Cholinergic Interneurons in Mouse Accessory Olfactory Bulb. Front Neuroanat 11:10
Szebenyi, Steven A; Ogura, Tatsuya; Sathyanesan, Aaron et al. (2014) Increases in intracellular calcium via activation of potentially multiple phospholipase C isozymes in mouse olfactory neurons. Front Cell Neurosci 8:336
Yamaguchi, Tatsuya; Yamashita, Junpei; Ohmoto, Makoto et al. (2014) Skn-1a/Pou2f3 is required for the generation of Trpm5-expressing microvillous cells in the mouse main olfactory epithelium. BMC Neurosci 15:13
Sathyanesan, Aaron; Feijoo, Adrian A; Mehta, Saloni T et al. (2013) Expression profile of G-protein ?? subunit gene transcripts in the mouse olfactory sensory epithelia. Front Cell Neurosci 7:84
Dunston, David; Ashby, Sarah; Krosnowski, Kurt et al. (2013) An effective manual deboning method to prepare intact mouse nasal tissue with preserved anatomical organization. J Vis Exp :