Stockholm [Sweden], January 8 (ANI): In the nerve cells that our noses use to detect smell, researchers at Umeå University in Sweden have found a previously unidentified cell component called an organelle. The discovery may stimulate more studies of the COVID-19 symptom of poor smell perception.
– A prerequisite for finding a treatment for impaired sense of smell is to first understand how the sense of smell works, said Staffan Bohm. Professor at the Department of Molecular Biology at Umeå University.
The so-called organelle that the researchers have uncovered is one that has never before been seen inside nerve cells. Multivesicular transducosome is the name the researchers have given to the newly discovered organelle. Umeå University’s distinctive microscope facility was important in the discovery.
What the researchers have discovered is a so-called organelle inside nerve cells, which has not been observed before. The newly discovered organelle has been named multivesicular transducosome by the researchers. The discovery was made possible thanks to Umeå University’s unique microscopy infrastructure.
Organelles are distinct ‘work stations’ inside cells that can be compared to the different organs of the body, ie 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. the cilia, which protrude into the nasal cavity and contain the proteins that bind odorants 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.
The role of the transductosome is to both store and keep transduction proteins separate from each other until they are needed. Upon odor stimulation, the outer membrane of the organelle ruptures, which releases the transduction proteins so that they can reach the cilia of the neuron and smell is perceived.
The researchers also discovered that the transductosome carries a protein called retinitis pigmentosa 2, RP2, which is otherwise known to regulate transduction in the eye’s photoreceptor cells. 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 found in the neurons of the brain that are activated by signaling substances and not light and smell. In that case, the discovery may prove to be 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 various proteins can be imaged simultaneously. Crucial to the discovery was Devendra’s method development, which enabled the technique to be used to analyze intact neurons in tissue sections. (ANI)