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Selectivity of Chemoreceptor Neuron.
BioSystems, v.58(1-3), 2000, 125--132
Abstract. Discriminating ability (selectivity) of chemoreceptor neuron is compared with that of its receptor proteins. The process of neuronal triggering is expected to be cooperative and threshold-type in a sense that the neuron can fire if and only if the number of its receptor proteins which are bound with odor molecules is above a definite threshold. Both deterministic and stochastic pictures are considered. The stochastic case is treated based on birth and death stochastic process and first passage technique. In both pictures, it is shown that a chemoreceptor neuron can have much a higher selectivity than its individual receptor proteins, provided the chemical stimuli are presented at low concentrations, and the threshold is high enough. This is in agreement with preliminary estimate based on simplified probabilistic reasoning (Vidybida, 1999). The mechanism of selectivity improvement is similar to that described before in cooperative chemical systems. A possibility for this mechanism to be valid at higher stages of processing of chemical signals, as well as in other sensory systems is discussed.