Each olfactory sensory neuron (OSN) expresses a single odorant receptor (OR) from a large repertoire of clustered OR genes. It has been hypothesized that OR gene regulation may involve stochastic DNA rearrangement, which in lymphocytes requires the recombination activating genes, rag1 and rag2. We have recently demonstrated that rag1 is expressed in zebrafish OSNs. Here we report that rag2, the obligate partner for rag1 function, is also expressed in OSNs and that its expression pattern mimics that of rag1. The onset of rag1 and rag2 expression preceded that of known zebrafish ORs and the number of rag1-positive OSNs corresponded with the number expressing the olfactory cyclic nucleotide-gated cation channel, an OSN marker. Zebrafish OSNs are the first example of concurrent rag expression in a nonlymphoid tissue. The expression of rag1 and rag2 in OSNs adds to the list of similarities between the olfactory and immune systems that includes monoallelic and mutually exclusive gene expression.
Copyright 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.