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Cell Mol Life Sci. 2001 Apr;58(4):531-7.

Targeting of olfactory neurons.

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Institute of Physiology, University Stuttgart-Hohenheim, Stuttgart, Germany.


Olfactory sensory neurons detect an enormous variety of small volatile molecules with extremely high sensitivity and specificity. The actual recognition and discrimination of odorous compounds is accomplished by specific receptor proteins located in the ciliary membrane of the sensory neurons. Axonal connections into the olfactory bulb, the first relay station for odor processing in the brain, are organized such that all neurons expressing the same odorant receptor converge their axons onto common glomeruli which are located at similar positions in all individuals from one species. For the establishment of this precise targeting of olfactory axons to their appropriate glomeruli, combinatorial functions of axon-associated cell adhesion molecules and odorant receptor proteins appear to be required. Odorants that stimulate distinct receptor cell populations will thereby activate a specific combination of glomeruli in the bulb; this characteristic activity pattern may be used by the system to encode the quality of a particular odorant.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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