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J Comp Neurol. 2000 Aug 7;423(4):565-78.

Expression of semaphorins in developing and regenerating olfactory epithelium.

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Department of Neuroscience, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21205, USA.


Semaphorins provide signals that guide growing axons to their appropriate destinations. The secreted semaphorin, Sema3A, mediates repulsive effects on axons from various neuronal populations in embryonic rats. The authors localized Sema3A mRNA expression in the primary olfactory pathway during development, in adult rats, and in adult rats that were subjected to a unilateral olfactory bulbectomy. Developing rats at ages from embryonic day 14 (E14) to E19 expressed Sema3A in the olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) of the olfactory epithelium and in chondrogenic structures surrounding the nasal cavity. In vitro, ORN axons at E14 avoided substrate-bound Sema3A. Low levels of Sema3A expression persisted in the normal adult epithelium both in ORNs scattered throughout the epithelium and in small clusters. Three days after a unilateral olfactory bulbectomy, Sema3A transcript levels increased in regenerating neurons. High levels of Sema3A transcript were found at 1 week postbulbectomy, persisted for 2 weeks, and diminished by 3 weeks. Several other murine semaphorins (Sema4A, Sema4B, and Sema4C) were expressed differentially in the primary olfactory pathway both during development and regeneration. These findings suggest that Sema3A and perhaps other semaphorins play a role in directing ORNs out of the epithelium and to the olfactory bulb, their target structure, during both development and regeneration.

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