Primary olfactory axons expressing the same odorant receptor gene sort out and converge to fixed sites in the olfactory bulb. We examined the guidance of axons expressing the P2 odorant receptor when they were challenged with different cellular environments in vivo. In the mutant extratoes mouse, the olfactory bulb is lacking and is replaced by a fibrocellular mass. In these animals, primary olfactory axons form glomerular-like loci despite the absence of normal postsynaptic targets. P2 axons are able to sort out from other axons in this fibrocellular mass and converge to form loci of like axons. The sites of these loci along mediolateral and ventrodorsal axes were highly variable. Similar convergence was observed for larger subpopulations of axons expressing the same cell surface carbohydrates. The sorting out and convergence of like axons also occurred during regeneration following bulbectomy. Olfactory axon behaviour in these models demonstrates that sorting and convergence of axons are independent of the target, which instead provides distinct topographic cues for guidance.
Copyright 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.