Lineage analysis of the olfactory epithelium using a replication-incompetent retrovirus

Chem Senses. 1994 Dec;19(6):683-93. doi: 10.1093/chemse/19.6.683.


We have analysed the lineage of olfactory receptor neurons using a replication-incompetent retrovirus injected beneath the olfactory epithelium of young rats. There are two major types of clusters of infected cells seen at 5--40 days after infection: (i) horizontal basal cells (HBCs); (ii) variable numbers of globose basal cells (GBCs), and immature and mature sensory neurons. Olfactory nerve lesion increased the frequency of the globose/sensory neuron clusters, as well as the number of cells/cluster, but did not change the number of HBC clusters or cells/cluster. No clusters contained sustentacular cells. These data indicate that, at least in young rats: (i) HBCs are not precursors of olfactory neurons; (ii) there is a lineage path from GBCs to mature neurons; and (iii) sustentacular cells arise from a separate lineage.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Alkaline Phosphatase / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Fibroblasts / metabolism
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology
  • Olfactory Bulb / cytology
  • Olfactory Mucosa / cytology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, Odorant / physiology*
  • Retroviridae / genetics*
  • Retroviridae / physiology
  • Virus Replication / physiology*


  • Receptors, Odorant
  • Alkaline Phosphatase