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Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2000 Dec 29;355(1404):1801-12.

Zonal organization of the mammalian main and accessory olfactory systems.

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Laboratory for Neuronal Recognition Molecules, Brain Science Institute, the Institute of Physical and Chemical Research (RIKEN), Wako, Saitama, Japan.


Zonal organization is one of the characteristic features observed in both main and accessory olfactory systems. In the main olfactory system, most of the odorant receptors are classified into four groups according to their zonal expression patterns in the olfactory epithelium. Each group of odorant receptors is expressed by sensory neurons distributed within one of four circumscribed zones. Olfactory sensory neurons in a given zone of the epithelium project their axons to the glomeruli in a corresponding zone of the main olfactory bulb. Glomeruli in the same zone tend to represent similar odorant receptors having similar tuning specificity to odorants. Vomeronasal receptors (or pheromone receptors) are classified into two groups in the accessory olfactory system. Each group of receptors is expressed by vomeronasal sensory neurons in either the apical or basal zone of the vomeronasal epithelium. Sensory neurons in the apical zone project their axons to the rostral zone of the accessory olfactory bulb and form synaptic connections with mitral tufted cells belonging to the rostral zone. Signals originated from basal zone sensory neurons are sent to mitral tufted cells in the caudal zone of the accessory olfactory bulb. We discuss functional implications of the zonal organization in both main and accessory olfactory systems.

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