Voltage-gated calcium (Cav) channels are a prerequisite for signal transmission at the first olfactory sensory neuron (OSN) synapse within the glomeruli of the main olfactory bulb (MOB). We showed previously that the N-type Cav channel subunit Cav2.2 is present in the vast majority of glomeruli and plays a central role in presynaptic transmitter release. Here, we identify a distinct subset of glomeruli in the MOB of adult mice that is characterized by expression of the P/Q-type channel subunit Cav2.1. Immunolocalization shows that Cav2.1+ glomeruli reside predominantly in the medial and dorsal MOB, and in the vicinity of the necklace glomerular region close to the accessory olfactory bulb. Few glomeruli are detected on the ventral and lateral MOB. Cav2.1 labeling in glomeruli colocalizes with the presynaptic marker vGlut2 in the axon terminals of OSNs. Electron microscopy shows that Cav2.1+ presynaptic boutons establish characteristic asymmetrical synapses with the dendrites of second-order neurons in the glomerular neuropil. Cav2.1+ glomeruli receive axonal input from OSNs that express molecules of canonical OSNs: olfactory marker protein, the ion channel Cnga2, and the phosphodiesterase Pde4a. In the main olfactory epithelium, Cav2.1 labels a distinct subpopulation of OSNs whose distribution mirrors the topography of the MOB glomeruli, that shows the same molecular signature, and is already present at birth. Together, these experiments identify a unique Cav2.1+ multiglomerular domain in the MOB that may form a previously unrecognized olfactory subsystem distinct from other groups of necklace glomeruli that rely on cGMP signaling mechanisms.
Keywords: Cacna1a; Cav2.1α-1a subunit; olfactory bulb; olfactory epithelium; olfactory glomerulus; olfactory subsystem; synaptic localization; voltage-gated calcium channel.
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