Olfactory receptor neuron axon targeting: intrinsic transcriptional control and hierarchical interactions

Nat Neurosci. 2004 Aug;7(8):819-25. doi: 10.1038/nn1284. Epub 2004 Jul 11.


From insects to mammals, olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) expressing a common olfactory receptor target their axons to specific glomeruli with high precision. Here we show in Drosophila that the POU transcription factor Acj6 controls the axon targeting specificity of a subset of ORN classes, as defined by the olfactory receptors that they express. Of these classes, some require Acj6 cell-autonomously, whereas others require Acj6 cell-nonautonomously. Mosaic analyses show that cooperative targeting occurs between axon terminals of the same ORN classes and that there are hierarchical interactions among different ORN classes. We propose that the precision of ORN axon targeting derives from both intrinsic transcriptional control and extensive axon-axon interactions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / physiology*
  • Cell Communication / physiology
  • Drosophila / physiology*
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Male
  • Mosaicism
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism*
  • Neural Pathways / anatomy & histology
  • Neural Pathways / physiology*
  • Olfactory Bulb / anatomy & histology
  • Olfactory Bulb / physiology
  • Olfactory Receptor Neurons / physiology*
  • POU Domain Factors
  • Receptors, Odorant / physiology
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • POU Domain Factors
  • Receptors, Odorant
  • Transcription Factors
  • acj6 protein, Drosophila