Document Type


Publication Date



This is the final published version of the paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 2020 Nov 10;117(45):28485-28495.

The article can also be accessed at the publishers website:

Copyright. The Authors


The recent discovery of sensory (tastant and odorant) G protein-coupled receptors on the smooth muscle of human bronchi suggests unappreciated therapeutic targets in the management of obstructive lung diseases. Here we have characterized the effects of a wide range of volatile odorants on the contractile state of airway smooth muscle (ASM) and uncovered a complex mechanism of odorant-evoked signaling properties that regulate excitation-contraction (E-C) coupling in human ASM cells. Initial studies established multiple odorous molecules capable of increasing intracellular calcium ([Ca2+]i) in ASM cells, some of which were (paradoxically) associated with ASM relaxation. Subsequent studies showed a terpenoid molecule (nerol)-stimulated OR2W3 caused increases in [Ca2+]i and relaxation of ASM cells. Of note, OR2W3-evoked [Ca2+]i mobilization and ASM relaxation required Ca2+ flux through the store-operated calcium entry (SOCE) pathway and accompanied plasma membrane depolarization. This chemosensory odorant receptor response was not mediated by adenylyl cyclase (AC)/cyclic nucleotide-gated (CNG) channels or by protein kinase A (PKA) activity. Instead, ASM olfactory responses to the monoterpene nerol were predominated by the activity of Ca2+-activated chloride channels (TMEM16A), including the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) expressed on endo(sarco)plasmic reticulum. These findings demonstrate compartmentalization of Ca2+ signals dictates the odorant receptor OR2W3-induced ASM relaxation and identify a previously unrecognized E-C coupling mechanism that could be exploited in the development of therapeutics to treat obstructive lung diseases.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

PubMed ID