Transcriptome and Functional Analysis of Carotid Body Glomus Cells

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Zhou, Ting


Matsunami, Hiroaki

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The carotid body (CB) is a major arterial chemoreceptor containing glomus cells that are activated by changes in arterial blood contents including oxygen. Despite significant advancement in the characterization of their physiological properties, our understanding on the underlying molecular machinery and signaling pathway in CB glomus cells is still limited.

To overcome these limitations, in chapter 1, I demonstrated the first transcriptome profile of CB glomus cells using single cell sequencing technology, which allowed us to uncover a set of abundantly expressed genes, including novel glomus cell-specific transcripts. These results revealed involvement of G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) signaling pathway, various types of ion channels, as well as atypical mitochondrial subunits in CB function. I also identified ligands for the mostly highly expressed GPCR (Olfr78) in CB glomus cells and examined this receptor’s role in CB mediated hypoxic ventilatory response.

Current knowledge of CB suggest glomus cells rely on unusual mitochondria for their sensitivity to hypoxia. I previously identified the atypical mitochondrial subunit Ndufa4l2 as a highly over-represented gene in CB glomus cells. In chapter 2, to investigate the functional significance of Ndufa4l2 in CB function, I phenotyped both Ndufa4l2 knockout mice and mice with conditional Ndufa4l2 deletion in CB glomus cells. I found that Ndufa4l2 is essential to the establishment of regular breathing after birth. Ablating Ndufa4l2 in postnatal CB glomus cells resulted in defective CB sensitivity to hypoxia as well as CB mediated hypoxic ventilatory response. Together, our data showed that Ndufa4l2 is critical to respiratory control and the oxygen sensitivity of CB glomus cells.





Zhou, Ting (2016). Transcriptome and Functional Analysis of Carotid Body Glomus Cells. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from


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