Olfactory neurons are interdependent in maintaining axonal projections

Curr Biol. 2000 Feb 24;10(4):219-22. doi: 10.1016/s0960-9822(00)00342-0.


In mice, individual olfactory neurons express one of the thousand distinct olfactory receptor genes [1] [2] [3]. Neurons that express a given receptor converge on distinct loci in the olfactory bulb to form structures called glomeruli [4] [5] [6]. The olfactory receptor is involved in an instructive manner in this axonal convergence [6] [7] but little is known about the mechanisms involved in maintaining convergence. We have previously created a transgenic olfactory receptor locus that functions independently of the endogenous loci [8]. Here, we show that, although the projections of neurons expressing this ectopic transgenic olfactory receptor always converge in newborn mice, surprisingly, in adult mice, convergence is not always maintained. Moreover, in adult mice there is a positive correlation between the number of neurons expressing the transgenic receptor and the probability of maintaining convergence. These observations, taken together with the variability observed in wild-type [4] [6] and genetically manipulated mice ([6] and our unpublished observations), suggest that olfactory neurons require the presence of other similar axons to maintain a glomerulus. We call this phenomenon interdependence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / physiology*
  • Dendrites / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Olfactory Pathways* / cytology
  • Olfactory Receptor Neurons / physiology*