Tuft calcium spikes in accessory olfactory bulb mitral cells.
The mammalian accessory olfactory system is critical for the detection and identification of pheromones and the representation of complex stimuli including sex, genetic relatedness, and individual identity. Mitral cells, the principal cells of the accessory olfactory bulb (AOB), receive monosynaptic input from the sensory periphery and already show highly specific response properties, firing selectively for combinations of genetic markers and gender-specific cues. Vomeronasal sensory neuron axons form synapses onto distal tuft-like branches of mitral cell primary dendrites. We have studied dendritic excitability and synaptic integration in AOB mitral cell dendrites, and we show that dendrites of accessory olfactory bulb mitral cells support action potential propagation and can fire regenerative spike-like events that are likely to contribute to the integration of inputs to these cells. These tuft spikes may be important for the specificity of AOB mitral cell responses.