Odor information is encoded by selective activation of olfactory receptors and mapped topographically to glomeruli in the olfactory bulb. Our broad, long term objective is to understand dendritic and synaptic signaling mechanisms in the bulb that transform this mapped input into odor-encoding spike patterns in output neurons - the mitral cells and tufted cells. We focus on the tufted cells, a major class of principal neurons in the olfactory bulb that has been mostly ignored. Tufted cells differ from mitral cells in their cortical projections, dendritic fields, spike frequencies, and lateral inhibitory tuning of molecular receptive ranges. Our working hypothesis is that sensory processing in the olfactory bulb is split into parallel pathways by sub-circuits containing the tufted cells and mitral cells. We will test this theory by analyzing and contrasting the spike timing and synchronization of tufted cells relative to mitral cells, by mapping out the spatial structure of local interneuron circuits that link to tufted cells and mitral cells, and by determining biophysical and synaptic mechanisms of spike synchrony. We will also analyze the intrabulbar projections of tufted cells to granule cells linking mirror symmetric glomerular maps, and test a specific model for the role of the neuropeptide cholecytokinin as a co-transmitter or modulator in these projections. Our work will yield new insights into differential coding and dynamic inhibitory mechanisms regulating rhythmic spike activity in a sensory system. Our experimental approaches include a combination of patch-clamp electrophysiology and optical recording or stimulation in slice preparations in a rodent model.

Public Health Relevance

This work address a major gap in our knowledge of connectivity and synaptic physiology of circuits in the olfactory bulb that process sensory information. It has broad significance for understanding the synchronization and dynamics of brain circuits,.and is relevant to improving our understanding of pathologies in the coordination of neuronal networks, such as epilepsy and dementia. We also take pioneering steps in developing a new cellular model for analyzing a peptide signal transduction pathway that is involved in oncogenesis.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
Research Project (R01)
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Somatosensory and Chemosensory Systems Study Section (SCS)
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Sullivan, Susan L
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Monell Chemical Senses Center
United States
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Mainland, Joel D; Lundström, Johan N; Reisert, Johannes et al. (2014) From molecule to mind: an integrative perspective on odor intensity. Trends Neurosci 37:443-54
Ma, Jie; Dankulich-Nagrudny, Luba; Lowe, Graeme (2013) Cholecystokinin: an excitatory modulator of mitral/tufted cells in the mouse olfactory bulb. PLoS One 8:e64170
Cruz, Georgina; Lowe, Graeme (2013) Neural coding of binary mixtures in a structurally related odorant pair. Sci Rep 3:1220
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