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Dev Neurobiol. 2008 Mar;68(4):476-86. doi: 10.1002/dneu.20612.

Differential development of odorant receptor expression patterns in the olfactory epithelium: a quantitative analysis in the mouse septal organ.

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Department of Neuroscience, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia 19104, USA.


The rodent olfactory epithelium expresses more than 1000 odorant receptors (ORs) with distinct patterns, yet it is unclear how such patterns are established during development. In the current study, we investigated development of the expression patterns of different ORs in the septal organ, a small patch of olfactory epithelium predominantly expressing nine identified ORs. The presumptive septal organ first appears at about embryonic day 16 (E16) and it completely separates from the main olfactory epithelium (MOE) at about postnatal day 7 (P7). Using in situ hybridization, we quantified the densities of the septal organ neurons labeled by specific RNA probes of the nine abundant OR genes from E16 to postnatal 3 months. The results indicate that olfactory sensory neurons (OSNs) expressing different ORs have asynchronous temporal onsets. For instance, MOR256-17 and MOR236-1 cells are present in the septal organ at E16; however, MOR0-2 cells do not appear until P0. In addition, OSNs expressing different ORs show distinct developmental courses and reach their maximum densities at different stages ranging from E16 (e.g. MOR256-17) to 1 month (e.g. MOR256-3 and MOR235-1). Furthermore, early onset does not correlate with high abundance in adult. This study reveals a dynamic composition of the OSNs expressing different ORs in the developing olfactory epithelium.

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