TMEM16A calcium-activated chloride currents in supporting cells of the mouse olfactory epithelium

J Gen Physiol. 2019 Jul 1;151(7):954-966. doi: 10.1085/jgp.201812310. Epub 2019 May 2.


Glial-like supporting (or sustentacular) cells are important constituents of the olfactory epithelium that are involved in several physiological processes such as production of endocannabinoids, insulin, and ATP and regulation of the ionic composition of the mucus layer that covers the apical surface of the olfactory epithelium. Supporting cells express metabotropic P2Y purinergic receptors that generate ATP-induced Ca2+ signaling through the activation of a PLC-mediated cascade. Recently, we reported that a subpopulation of supporting cells expresses also the Ca2+-activated Cl- channel TMEM16A. Here, we sought to extend our understanding of a possible physiological role of this channel in the olfactory system by asking whether Ca2+ can activate Cl- currents mediated by TMEM16A. We use whole-cell patch-clamp analysis in slices of the olfactory epithelium to measure dose-response relations in the presence of various intracellular Ca2+ concentrations, ion selectivity, and blockage. We find that knockout of TMEM16A abolishes Ca2+-activated Cl- currents, demonstrating that TMEM16A is essential for these currents in supporting cells. Also, by using extracellular ATP as physiological stimuli, we found that the stimulation of purinergic receptors activates a large TMEM16A-dependent Cl- current, indicating a possible role of TMEM16A in ATP-mediated signaling. Altogether, our results establish that TMEM16A-mediated currents are functional in olfactory supporting cells and provide a foundation for future work investigating the precise physiological role of TMEM16A in the olfactory system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials*
  • Adenosine Triphosphate / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Anoctamin-1 / metabolism*
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Chlorides / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Olfactory Mucosa / metabolism*
  • Olfactory Mucosa / physiology
  • Receptors, Purinergic / metabolism


  • ANO1 protein, mouse
  • Anoctamin-1
  • Chlorides
  • Receptors, Purinergic
  • Adenosine Triphosphate
  • Calcium