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Cell. 1993 May 7;73(3):597-609.

A zonal organization of odorant receptor gene expression in the olfactory epithelium.

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Department of Neurobiology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115.


The mechanisms by which mammals discriminate a vast array of diverse odors are poorly understood. To gain insight into the organizational strategies underlying this discriminatory capacity, we have examined the spatial distribution of odorant receptor RNAs in the mouse olfactory epithelium. We have observed topographically distinct patterns of receptor RNAs suggesting that the nasal cavity is divided into a series of expression zones. The zones exhibit bilateral symmetry in the two nasal cavities and are organized along the dorsal-ventral and medial-lateral axes. Within each zone, a neuron may select a gene for expression from a zonal gene set via a stochastic mechanism. The observed zonal patterning may serve as an initial organizing step in olfactory sensory information coding.

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