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J Neurobiol. 2006 Jul;66(8):835-46.

Development and topography of the lateral olfactory tract in the mouse: imaging by genetically encoded and injected fluorescent markers.

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The Rockefeller University, New York, New York 10021, USA.


In mammals, conventional odorants are detected by OSNs located in the main olfactory epithelium of the nose. These neurons project their axons to glomeruli, which are specialized structures of neuropil in the olfactory bulb. Within glomeruli, axons synapse onto dendrites of projection neurons, the mitral and tufted (M/T) cells. Genetic approaches to visualize axons of OSNs expressing a given odorant receptor have proven very useful in elucidating the organization of these projections to the olfactory bulb. Much less is known about the development and connectivity of the lateral olfactory tract (LOT), which is formed by axons of M/T cells connecting the olfactory bulb to central neural regions. Here, we have extended our genetic approach to mark M/T cells of the main olfactory bulb and their axons in the mouse, by targeted insertion of IRES-tauGFP in the neurotensin locus. In NT-GFP mice, we find that M/T cells of the main olfactory bulb mature and project axons as early as embryonic day 11.5. Final innervation of central areas is accomplished before the end of the second postnatal week. M/T cell axons that originate from small defined areas within the main olfactory bulb, as visualized by localized injections of fluorescent tracers in wild-type mice at postnatal days 1 to 3, follow a dual trajectory: a branch of tightly packed axons along the dorsal aspect of the LOT, and a more diffuse branch along the ventral aspect. The dorsal, but not the ventral, subdivision of the LOT exhibits a topographical segregation of axons coming from the dorsal versus ventral main olfactory bulb. The NT-GFP mouse strain should prove useful in further studies of development and topography of the LOT, from E11.5 until 2 weeks after birth.

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