Applied Cell Biology

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The Work of the Olfactory Cell

Jan Myjkowski*

Retired physician, Specialist in otolaryngology-pensioner, Myjkowski Jan, Poland


Work is the basic physical quantity that determines the amount of energy needed to perform a given task. In the case of smell, it is a complex process of receiving odor signals from the outside world, transforming them in the olfactory cell into the form of chemical bonding energy, which is converted into electrical energy of the action potential at the synapse between the I and II neurons of the olfactory pathway. Regardless of the many transformations of energy along the way, the signal reaching the brain must be recognizable in quality and intensity. The olfactory organ works around the clock, although olfactory sensations do not reach the brain at night. Very strong odors like ammonia can wake you from sleep. The entire system uses external energy to perform work. Similar to the nerve cell and the auditory cell, the olfactory cell is an excitable cell, meaning that the action of an external stimulus leads to a response in the form of depolarization of the cell. A bidirectional action of the cell is created. In addition to the normal work related to the life of the cell - like with any other cell, for that matter, there is work related to the transformation of the olfactory signal in the cell and the transmission of this signal to the synapse. These two levels of olfactory cell activity are closely related, dependent on each other, using the same substrates and frequently the same transmission pathways. The level related to cell life is the constitutive level, while the second level, related to signal transmission, is the regulated level. This latter level begins with taking over the energy of odor substance - an odorant, which, regardless of its size, has kinetic energy, potential energy and electron energy. By binding with the GPCR receptor and acceptor, the odorant causes the transfer of some of its own energy, that associated with the odor. The electron cloud of the odorant, after combining with the electron cloud of the receptor, loses a certain amount of electrons or protons. After transmitting information to the acceptor, such a molecule is detached from the receptor and enzymatically destroyed. OBP is just an intermediary for these reactions. Further transformations of the energy of the olfactory signal take place in the cell and synapse.

Receptor; Olfactory cell; Electron; Synapse
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