Multiple axon guidance cues establish the olfactory topographic map: how do these cues interact?

Int J Dev Biol. 2002;46(4):639-47.


Each primary olfactory neuron stochastically expresses one of approximately 1000 odorant receptors. The total population of these neurons therefore consists of approximately 1,000 distinct subpopulations, each of which are mosaically dispersed throughout one of four semi-annular zones in the nasal cavity. The axons of these different subpopulations are initially intermingled within the olfactory nerve. However, upon reaching the olfactory bulb, they sort out and converge so that axons expressing the same odorant receptor typically target one or two glomeruli. The spatial location of each of these approximately 1800 glomeruli are topographically-fixed in the olfactory bulb and are invariant from animal to animal. Thus, while odorant receptors are expressed mosaically by neurons throughout the olfactory neuroepithelium their axons sort out, converge and target the same glomerulus within the olfactory bulb. How is such precise and reproducible topographic targeting generated? While some of the mechanisms governing the growth cone guidance of olfactory sensory neurons are understood, the cues responsible for homing axons to their target site remain elusive.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / metabolism
  • Axons / physiology*
  • Carbohydrates / physiology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • Mice
  • Models, Biological
  • Olfactory Bulb / anatomy & histology
  • Olfactory Bulb / physiology*
  • Olfactory Nerve / physiology*
  • Olfactory Pathways
  • Rats
  • Receptors, Odorant / physiology


  • Carbohydrates
  • Receptors, Odorant