Heterogeneity in olfactory neurons in mouse revealed by differential expression of glycoconjugates

Histochem J. 2002 Jun-Jul;34(6-7):281-9. doi: 10.1023/a:1023374407724.


Cell surface glycoconjugates have been implicated in the growth and guidance of subpopulations of primary olfactory axons. While subpopulations of primary olfactory neurons have been identified by differential expression of carbohydrates in the rat there are few reports of similar subpopulations in the mouse. We have examined the spatiotemporal expression pattern of glycoconjugates recognized by the lectin from Wisteria floribunda (WFA) in the mouse olfactory system. In the developing olfactory neuroepithelium lining the nasal cavity, WFA stained a subpopulation of primary olfactory neurons and the fascicles of axons projecting to the target tissue, the olfactory bulb. Within the developing olfactory bulb, WFA stained the synaptic neuropil of the glomerular and external plexiform layers. In adults, strong expression of WFA ligands was observed in second-order olfactory neurons as well as in neurons in several higher order olfactory processing centres in the brain. Similar, although distinct, staining of neurons in the olfactory pathway was detected with Dolichos biflorus agglutinin. These results demonstrate that unique subpopulations of olfactory neurons are chemically coded by the expression of glycoconjugates. The conserved expression of these carbohydrates across species suggests they play an important role in the functional organization of this region of the nervous system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Glycoconjugates / biosynthesis*
  • Ligands
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Olfactory Bulb / embryology
  • Olfactory Bulb / growth & development
  • Olfactory Bulb / metabolism
  • Olfactory Pathways / embryology
  • Olfactory Pathways / growth & development
  • Olfactory Pathways / metabolism*
  • Plant Lectins / pharmacology


  • Glycoconjugates
  • Ligands
  • Plant Lectins
  • dolichos biflorus agglutinin