Coding Olfaction. Peter Mombaerts

Wednesday, 4 September, 2013 - 11:30 to 13:00

The mammalian olfactory system is increasingly recognized as an attractive model system for studying the formation of neural circuits during development. An olfactory sensory neuron expresses just one the of ~1000 odorant receptor genes in the mouse genome. Axons of neurons a given odorant receptor gene converge onto a few of the ~1800 glomeruli in the olfactory bulb of the mouse. A mapping problem is thus posed: ~1000 populations of neurons, each expressing a distinct odorant receptor gene, must be sorted onto ~1800 glomeruli. A productive approach to study axonal coalescence has been targeted mutagenesis of odorant receptor genes, to express axonal markers in neurons expressing a given odorant receptor gene. These experiments have revealed that the odorant receptor is a critical determinant of axonal coalescence into glomeruli. My lecture will summarize the results of our research about the problems of odorant receptor gene choice and axonal wiring.