Genetic ablation and restoration of the olfactory topographic map

Cell. 2000 Nov 10;103(4):609-20. doi: 10.1016/s0092-8674(00)00164-1.


In the olfactory sensory system, neurons expressing a given odorant receptor project with precision to two of 1800 spatially invariant glomeruli creating a topographic map within the olfactory bulb. Olfactory sensory neurons have a half-life of about 90 days and are continually renewing. This poses the problem of how this precise spatial map is maintained throughout the life of the organism. We have developed a genetic approach to effect the synchronous ablation of subpopulations of neurons expressing a given receptor. The axons of newly generated neurons can then be followed as they enter the brain and converge on glomerular targets during adult life. The observation that following neuronal cell killing, the spatial map is faithfully restored, demonstrates that the information necessary for the establishment of the sensory map persists throughout the life of the organism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Death / genetics
  • Genetic Engineering / methods
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Nerve Regeneration / physiology*
  • Olfactory Bulb / anatomy & histology*
  • Olfactory Bulb / physiology*
  • Olfactory Receptor Neurons / physiology*
  • Receptors, Odorant / physiology*
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Turbinates


  • Receptors, Odorant