Prominent roles for odorant receptor coding sequences in allelic exclusion

Cell. 2007 Nov 30;131(5):1009-17. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2007.10.050.


Mammalian odorant receptors (ORs) are crucial for establishing the functional organization of the olfactory system, but the mechanisms controlling their expression remain largely unexplained. Here, we utilized a transgenic approach to explore OR gene regulation. We determined that although olfactory sensory neurons (OSNs) are capable of supporting expression of multiple functional ORs, several levels of control ensure that each neuron normally expresses only a single odorant receptor. Surprisingly, this regulation extends beyond endogenous ORs even preventing expression of transgenes consisting of OR-coding sequences driven by synthetic promoters. Thus, part of the intrinsic feedback system must rely on elements present in the OR-coding sequence. Notably, by expressing the same transgenic ORs precociously in immature neurons, we have overcome this suppression and established a generic method to express any OR in approximately 90% of OSNs. These results provide important insights into the hierarchy of OR gene expression and the vital role of the OR-coding sequence in this regulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Animals
  • Base Sequence / physiology
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Models, Biological
  • Olfactory Receptor Neurons / metabolism
  • Open Reading Frames / genetics*
  • Open Reading Frames / physiology
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic / physiology
  • Receptors, Odorant / genetics*
  • Receptors, Odorant / metabolism
  • Receptors, Odorant / physiology


  • Receptors, Odorant