New Cellular Component With Importance for the Sense of Smell Discovered
Multivesicular transducosome, the newly discovered organelle inside the neurons was found to be associated with sense of smell. The new discovery may have implications for further research on impaired sense of smell, which is a common symptom of COVID-19.
“A prerequisite for finding a treatment for impaired sense of smell is to first understand how the sense of smell works, says Staffan Bohm,” Professor at the Department of Molecular Biology at Ume University.
What are Organelles and How are They Involved in Smell Perception
Organelles are distinct ‘workstations’ inside cells that can be compared to the different organs of the body, i.e. different organelles have different functions in the cell. Most organelles are common to different cell types, but there are also organelles with specific functions that only occur in certain cell types. Olfactory nerve cells have long projections, i.e. cilia, that protrude into the nasal cavity and contain the proteins that bind odorous substances and thus initiate nerve impulses to the brain. The conversion of odor into nerve impulses is called transduction and the newly discovered organelle, contains only transduction proteins.
Upon olfactory stimulation, the outer membrane of the organelle ruptures, releasing the transduction proteins so that they can reach the cilia of the neuron, and smell is perceived.
If the RP2 gene is mutated, it can cause a variant of the eye disease retinitis pigmentosa that damages the eye’s light-sensitive cells.
“A question for further research is whether the transductosome has a role in vision and whether it is present in brain neurons that are activated by neurotransmitters and not light and smell. If so, the discovery may prove even more significant,” says Staffan Bohm.
The transducosome was discovered when researcher Devendra Kumar Maurya used a new technique called correlative microscopy. The technique combines electron microscopy and confocal microscopy so that a cell’s internal structures and the location of different proteins can be imaged simultaneously. Crucial to the discovery was Devendra’s method development, which enabled the technique to be used to analyse intact neurons in tissue sections.
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