Molecular signatures of neural connectivity in the olfactory cortex

Nat Commun. 2016 Jul 18;7:12238. doi: 10.1038/ncomms12238.


The ability to target subclasses of neurons with defined connectivity is crucial for uncovering neural circuit functions. The olfactory (piriform) cortex is thought to generate odour percepts and memories, and odour information encoded in piriform is routed to target brain areas involved in multimodal sensory integration, cognition and motor control. However, it remains unknown if piriform outputs are spatially organized, and if distinct output channels are delineated by different gene expression patterns. Here we identify genes selectively expressed in different layers of the piriform cortex. Neural tracing experiments reveal that these layer-specific piriform genes mark different subclasses of neurons, which project to distinct target areas. Interestingly, these molecular signatures of connectivity are maintained in reeler mutant mice, in which neural positioning is scrambled. These results reveal that a predictive link between a neuron's molecular identity and connectivity in this cortical circuit is determined independent of its spatial position.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amygdala / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Gene Expression Profiling*
  • Male
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Nerve Net / metabolism*
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Olfactory Bulb / metabolism
  • Olfactory Cortex / metabolism*
  • Piriform Cortex / metabolism
  • Prefrontal Cortex / metabolism