Allelic inactivation regulates olfactory receptor gene expression

Cell. 1994 Sep 9;78(5):823-34. doi: 10.1016/s0092-8674(94)90562-2.


We suggest a model in which a hierarchy of controls is exerted on the family of odorant receptor genes to assure that a sensory neuron expresses a single receptor from a family of 1000 genes. We propose that a cis-regulatory element directs the stochastic expression of only one gene from a large array of linked receptor genes. Moreover, only one allelic array encoding multiple receptor genes is active in an individual neuron. We demonstrate that in a neuron expressing a given receptor, expression derives exclusively from one allele. In addition, we observe that alleles encoding the odorant receptors are replicated asynchronously, a phenomenon consistently associated with allelic inactivation. This model, involving inactivation of one allelic array and cis control of the active array, provides a mechanism such that individual neurons express one or a small number of receptors.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • DNA Replication
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL / genetics
  • Models, Genetic
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Multigene Family / genetics*
  • Muridae / genetics
  • Olfactory Receptor Neurons / physiology*
  • Receptors, Odorant / genetics*
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Sex Factors


  • Receptors, Odorant

Associated data

  • GENBANK/S73844
  • GENBANK/S73845
  • GENBANK/S73846
  • GENBANK/S73847