The projection neurons in the olfactory bulb (mitral and tufted cells) send axons through the lateral olfactory tract (LOT) onto several structures of the olfactory cortex. However, little is known of the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying establishment of functional connectivity from the bulb to the cortex. Here, we investigated the developmental process of LOT formation by observing expression patterns of cell recognition molecules in embryonic mice. We immunohistochemically identified a dozen molecules expressed in the developing LOT and some of them were localized to subsets of mitral cell axons. Combinatorial immunostaining for these molecules revealed that the developing LOT consists of three laminas: superficial, middle, and deep. Detailed immunohistochemical, in situ hybridization, and 5-bromodeoxyuridine labeling analyses suggested that the laminar organization reflects: 1) the segregated pathways from the accessory and main olfactory bulbs, and 2) the different maturity of mitral cell axons. Mitral cell axons of the accessory olfactory bulb were localized to the deep lamina, segregated from those of the main olfactory bulb. In the main olfactory pathway, axons of mature mitral cells, whose somata is located in the apical sublayer of the mitral cell layer, were localized to the middle lamina within LOT, while those of immature mitral cells that located in the basal sublayer were complementarily localized to the superficial lamina. These results suggest that newly generated immature axons are added to the most superficial lamina of LOT successively, leading to the formation of piled laminas with different maturational stages of the mitral cell axons.
Copyright 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.