Uncoupling stimulus specificity and glomerular position in the mouse olfactory system

Mol Cell Neurosci. 2012 Nov;51(3-4):79-88. doi: 10.1016/j.mcn.2012.08.006. Epub 2012 Aug 21.


Sensory information is often mapped systematically in the brain with neighboring neurons responding to similar stimulus features. The olfactory system represents chemical information as spatial and temporal activity patterns across glomeruli in the olfactory bulb. However, the degree to which chemical features are mapped systematically in the glomerular array has remained controversial. Here, we test the hypothesis that the dual roles of odorant receptors, in axon guidance and odor detection, can serve as a mechanism to map olfactory inputs with respect to their function. We compared the relationship between response specificity and glomerular position in genetically-defined olfactory sensory neurons expressing variant odorant receptors. We find that sensory neurons with the same odor response profile can be mapped to different regions of the bulb, and that neurons with different response profiles can be mapped to the same glomeruli. Our data demonstrate that the two functions of odorant receptors can be uncoupled, indicating that the mechanisms that map olfactory sensory inputs to glomeruli do so without regard to stimulus specificity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Animals
  • Brain Mapping
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Ligands
  • Mice
  • Mutation
  • Odorants
  • Olfactory Bulb / cytology
  • Olfactory Bulb / physiology*
  • Olfactory Mucosa / physiology
  • Olfactory Receptor Neurons / cytology
  • Olfactory Receptor Neurons / physiology*
  • Receptors, Odorant / genetics
  • Receptors, Odorant / metabolism
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / genetics
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / metabolism


  • Ligands
  • M72 odorant receptor, mouse
  • Receptors, Odorant
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins