olfactory receptor neurons In vertebrates, olfactory stimulus transduction takes place in olfactory receptor neurons, which are part of the sensory epithelium lining the nasal cavity.   Each neuron sends several hairlike processes called cilia into the mucus layer in the nose.   It is on the surfaces of these fine cilia that odorant molecules are recognized and the first electrical signal is generated.   Using patch-clamp electrophysiology and computational modeling, we have studied the chemical and electrical properties of the ciliary membrane of the Northern grass frog Rana pipiens.   A neuron is isolated from the epithelium, and a single cilium is plucked from the cell.   We are then able to measure current flow across the ciliary membrane while perturbing the chemical and electrical environment.

Images from the Nose Project

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