Microvillous cells expressing IP3 receptor type 3 in the olfactory epithelium of mice

Eur J Neurosci. 2010 Nov;32(10):1632-45. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-9568.2010.07449.x. Epub 2010 Oct 19.


Microvillous cells of the main olfactory epithelium have been described variously as primary olfactory neurons, secondary chemosensory cells or non-sensory cells. Here we generated an IP3R3(tm1(tauGFP)) mouse in which the coding region for a fusion protein of tau and green fluorescent protein replaces the first exon of the Itpr3 gene. We provide immunohistochemical and functional characterization of the cells expressing IP3 receptor type 3 in the olfactory epithelium. These cells bear microvilli at their apex, and we therefore termed them IP3R3 MV cells. The cell body of these IP3R3 MV cells lies in the upper third of the main olfactory epithelium; a long thick basal process projects towards the base of the epithelium without penetrating the basal lamina. Retrograde labeling and unilateral bulbectomy corroborated that these IP3R3 MV cells do not extend axons to the olfactory bulb and therefore are not olfactory sensory neurons. The immunohistochemical features of IP3R3 MV cells varied, suggesting either developmental stages or the existence of subsets of these cells. Thus, for example, subsets of the IP3R3 MV cells make contact with substance P fibers or express the purinergic receptor P2X3. In addition, in recordings of intracellular calcium, these cells respond to ATP and substance P as well as to a variety of odors. The characterization of IP3R3 MV cells as non-neuronal chemoresponsive cells helps to explain the differing descriptions of microvillous cells in the literature.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Inositol 1,4,5-Trisphosphate Receptors / genetics
  • Inositol 1,4,5-Trisphosphate Receptors / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Olfactory Mucosa / cytology*
  • Olfactory Mucosa / metabolism*
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / genetics
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / metabolism
  • tau Proteins / genetics
  • tau Proteins / metabolism


  • Biomarkers
  • Inositol 1,4,5-Trisphosphate Receptors
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • tau Proteins
  • Calcium