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Neuron. 1994 Aug;13(2):339-52.

Globose basal cells are neuronal progenitors in the olfactory epithelium: a lineage analysis using a replication-incompetent retrovirus.

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Neuroscience Program, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts 02111.


We have used a replication-incompetent retrovirus to analyze the lineage of olfactory receptor neurons in young rats. At 5-40 days after infection, clusters of infected cells comprised two major types: one consisted of 1-2 horizontal basal cells, and a second consisted of variable numbers of globose basal cells and immature and mature sensory neurons. Olfactory nerve lesion (which enhances neuronal turnover) increased the frequency of the globose-sensory neuron clusters as well as the number of cells in such clusters. No clusters contained both horizontal and globose basal cells, and none contained sustentacular cells. These data suggest, at least in young rats, that horizontal basal cells are not precursors of olfactory neurons, that there is a lineage path from globose cells to mature neurons, and that sustentacular cells may arise from a separate lineage.

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