Dendritic excitability and calcium signalling in the mitral cell distal glomerular tuft

Eur J Neurosci. 2006 Sep;24(6):1623-32. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-9568.2006.05076.x.


The processing of odour information starts at the level of the olfactory glomerulus, where the mitral cell distal dendritic tuft not only receives olfactory nerve sensory input but also generates dendrodendritic output to form complicated glomerular synaptic circuits. Analysing the membrane properties and calcium signalling mechanisms in these tiny dendritic branches is crucial for understanding how the glomerular tuft transmits and processes olfactory signals. With the use of two-photon Ca2+ imaging in rat olfactory bulb slices, we found that these distal dendritic branches displayed a significantly larger Ca2+ signal than the soma and primary dendrite trunk. A back-propagating action potential was able to trigger a Ca2+ increase throughout the entire glomerular tuft, indicative of the presence of voltage-gated Ca2+ conductances in all branches at different levels of ramification. In response to a train of action potentials evoked at 60 Hz from the soma, the tuft Ca2+ signal increased linearly with the number of action potentials, suggesting that these glomerular branches were able to support repetitive penetration of Na+ action potentials. When a strong olfactory nerve excitatory input was paired with an inhibition from mitral cell basal dendrites, a small spike-like fast prepotential was revealed at both the soma and distal primary dendrite trunk. Corresponding to this fast prepotential was a Ca2+ increase confined locally within the glomerular tuft. In summary, the mitral cell distal dendritic tuft possesses both Na+ and Ca2+ voltage-dependent conductances which can mediate glomerular Ca2+ responsiveness critical for dendrodendritic output and synaptic plasticity.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology*
  • Action Potentials / radiation effects
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Calcium Signaling / physiology*
  • Dendrites / physiology*
  • Dendrites / ultrastructure
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Models, Neurological
  • Nerve Net / cytology
  • Nerve Net / physiology
  • Neurons / cytology*
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Olfactory Bulb / cytology*
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques / methods
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley