Sequential Maturation of Olfactory Sensory Neurons in the Mature Olfactory Epithelium

eNeuro. 2019 Oct 16;6(5):ENEURO.0266-19.2019. doi: 10.1523/ENEURO.0266-19.2019. Print 2019 Sep/Oct.


The formation of the olfactory nerve and olfactory bulb (OB) glomeruli begins embryonically in mice. However, the development of the olfactory system continues throughout life with the addition of new olfactory sensory neurons (OSNs) in the olfactory epithelium (OE). Much attention has been given to the perinatal innervation of the OB by OSN axons, but in the young adult the process of OSN maturation and axon targeting to the OB remains controversial. To address this gap in understanding, we used BrdU to label late-born OSNs in young adult mice at postnatal day 25 (P25-born OSNs) and timed their molecular maturation following basal cell division. We show that OSNs in young adults undergo a sequential molecular development with the expression of GAP 43 (growth-associated protein 43) > AC3 (adenylyl cyclase 3) > OMP (olfactory marker protein), consecutively, in a time frame of ∼8 d. To assess OSN axon development, we implemented an in vivo fate-mapping strategy to label P25-born OSNs with ZsGreen. Using sampling intervals of 24 h, we demonstrate the progressive extension of OSN axons in the OE, through the foramen of the cribriform plate, and onto the surface of the OB. OSN axons reached the OB and began to target and robustly innervate specific glomeruli ∼10 d following basal cell division, a time point at which OMP expression becomes evident. Our data demonstrate a sequential process of correlated axon extension and molecular maturation that is similar to that seen in the neonate, but on a slightly longer timescale and with regional differences in the OE.

Keywords: maturation; neurogenesis; olfactory epithelium; olfactory sensory neuron; olfactory system.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Mice
  • Neurogenesis / physiology
  • Olfactory Bulb / cytology*
  • Olfactory Bulb / growth & development*
  • Olfactory Mucosa / cytology*
  • Olfactory Mucosa / growth & development*
  • Olfactory Receptor Neurons / cytology*