Calcium-activated chloride channels are involved in several physiological processes including olfactory perception. TMEM16A and TMEM16B, members of the transmembrane protein 16 family (TMEM16), are responsible for calcium-activated chloride currents in several cells. Both are present in the olfactory epithelium of adult mice, but little is known about their expression during embryonic development. Using immunohistochemistry we studied their expression in the mouse olfactory epithelium at various stages of prenatal development from embryonic day (E) 12.5 to E18.5 as well as in postnatal mice. At E12.5, TMEM16A immunoreactivity was present at the apical surface of the entire olfactory epithelium, but from E16.5 became restricted to a region near the transition zone with the respiratory epithelium, where localized at the apical part of supporting cells and in their microvilli. In contrast, TMEM16B immunoreactivity was present at E14.5 at the apical surface of the entire olfactory epithelium, increased in subsequent days, and localized to the cilia of mature olfactory sensory neurons. These data suggest different functional roles for TMEM16A and TMEM16B in the developing as well as in the postnatal olfactory epithelium. The presence of TMEM16A at the apical part and in microvilli of supporting cells is consistent with a role in the regulation of the chloride ionic composition of the mucus covering the apical surface of the olfactory epithelium, whereas the localization of TMEM16B to the cilia of mature olfactory sensory neurons is consistent with a role in olfactory signal transduction.
Keywords: ANO1; ANO2; OSN; olfaction; supporting cell.
© 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.