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Cell. 1999 Apr 16;97(2):209-20.

A map of pheromone receptor activation in the mammalian brain.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, New York 10032, USA.


In mammals, the detection of pheromones is mediated by the vomeronasal system. We have employed gene targeting to visualize the pattern of projections of axons from vomeronasal sensory neurons in the accessory olfactory bulb. Neurons expressing a specific receptor project to multiple glomeruli that reside within spatially restricted domains. The formation of this sensory map in the accessory olfactory bulb and the survival of vomeronasal organ sensory neurons require the expression of pheromone receptors. In addition, we observe individual glomeruli in the accessory olfactory bulb that receive input from more than one type of sensory neuron. These observations indicate that the organization of the vomeronasal sensory afferents is dramatically different from that of the main olfactory system, and these differences have important implications for the logic of olfactory coding in the vomeronasal organ.

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