Suction Pipette Technique: An Electrophysiological Tool to Study Olfactory Receptor-Dependent Signal Transduction

  • Michele Dibattista
  • Johannes Reisert
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 1820)


The first step to perceive molecules in the air as odors is their detection by the olfactory receptors (ORs) present in the cilia of the olfactory sensory neurons (OSNs) in the nasal cavity. The binding of the odorant molecule to the OR triggers a series of biochemical events that lead to the opening of ion channels, creating at first a generator potential that, if the latter reaches threshold, leads to action potential firing. New insights into olfactory transduction introduced new key players and highlighted the necessity to study OSN physiology in an OR-dependent fashion.

The necessity of revisiting transduction mechanisms with consideration of the OR that an OSN expresses requires recording methods of odorant responses at single cell levels. A very effective method to do so is the Suction Pipette Technique, which allows the simultaneous recording of the slow receptor current that originates at the cilia and fast action potentials fired by the cell body. This method can be used in combination with gene targeting and editing techniques to fully address important aspects of the olfactory physiology.

Key words

Olfactory sensory neurons Receptor current Action potential Electrophysiology Suction pipette Single cell recordings Fast perfusion changes 



Rita Levi Montalcini Award from Italian Ministry of Education, University, and Research (DM100915_685 to Michele Dibattista).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Basic Medical Sciences, Neuroscience and Sensory OrgansUniversity of Bari “A. Moro”BariItaly
  2. 2.Monell Chemical Senses CenterPhiladelphiaUSA

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