ARRA: Olfactory Support Cells

Grants and Contracts Details


The support cells of the olfactory epithelium have received little direct attention, yet several tines of evidence indicate that they are critical for maintaining or regulating the olfactory sensory nerve cells, the ongoing replacement of olfactory sensory nerve cells, and the local environment that allows odor detection. A detailed molecular understanding of the two major types of support cells, sustentacular cells and Bowman's gland cells, is lacking. Fortuitously, we have developed a mouse strain that will allow us to extract two dissociated cell samples: One highly enriched for sustentacular cells, the other for Bowman's gland acinar cells. Aim 1 will therefore investigate whether two support cell transcriptomes show overrepresentation of biological processes hypothesized to be active in these support cells: Clearance of foreign chemicals, cell adhesion, clearance of dying cells, secretion, and certain cell signaling pathways. The outcome of this aim will also include a database of the probability of expression in sustentacular cells and Bowman's gland acinar cells for more than 10,000 genes. Aim 2 delves more deeply into a mechanism we hypothesize controls phagocytosis by sustentacular cells, one of the few documented functions of these cells. We hypothesize that signaling through the receptor tyrosine kinase Tyro3 regulates clearance of dying nerve cells by sustentacular cells. Overall, this project is another step toward a complete understanding of gene expression patterns in the olfactory epithelium and will identify most functions present in the little-studied support cells of this tissue. In addition, these experiments are relevant to age-dependent loss of olfactory function because deficits in Tyro3 receptor family signaling in the support cells of several other tissues are known to lead to age-related disorders, such as retinal degeneration.
Effective start/end date7/1/096/30/12


  • National Institute on Deafness & Other Communications: $371,250.00


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.