Axonal wiring in the mouse olfactory system

Annu Rev Cell Dev Biol. 2006;22:713-37. doi: 10.1146/annurev.cellbio.21.012804.093915.


The main olfactory epithelium of the mouse is a mosaic of 2000 populations of olfactory sensory neurons (OSNs). Each population expresses one allele of one of the 1000 intact odorant receptor (OR) genes. An OSN projects a single unbranched axon to a single glomerulus, from an array of 1600-1800 glomeruli in the main olfactory bulb. Within a glomerulus the OSN axon synapses with the dendrites of second-order neurons and interneurons. Axons of OSNs that express the same OR project to the same glomeruli-typically one glomerulus per half-bulb and thus four glomeruli per mouse. These glomeruli are located at characteristic positions within the glomerular layer of the bulb. ORs determine both the odorant response profile of the OSN and the projection of its axon to a specific glomerulus. I focus on genetic approaches to the axonal wiring problem, particularly on how ORs may function in axonal wiring.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / physiology*
  • Ephrins / metabolism
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Mice
  • Olfactory Pathways / cytology*
  • Olfactory Pathways / physiology*
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, beta-2 / metabolism
  • Receptors, Odorant / genetics


  • Ephrins
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, beta-2
  • Receptors, Odorant