Phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) signaling has been implicated in mediating inhibitory odorant input to mammalian olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs). To better understand the breadth of such inhibition in odor coding, we screened a panel of odorants representing different chemical classes, as well as odorants known to occur in a natural odor object (tomato), for their ability to rapidly activate PI3K-dependent inhibitory signaling. Odorants were screened on dissociated native rat ORNs before and after pre-incubation with the PI3K-isoform specific blockers AS252424 and TGX221. Many different odorants increased their excitatory strength for particular ORNs following PI3K blockade in a manner consistent with activating PI3K-dependent inhibitory signaling in those cells. The PI3K-dependent inhibitory odorants overlapped with conventional excitatory odorants, but did not share the same bias, indicating partial partitioning of the odor space. Finding that PI3K-dependent inhibition can be activated by a wide range of otherwise conventional excitatory odorants strongly implies PI3K-dependent inhibition provides a broad basis for opponent coding in mammalian ORNs.
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