Send to

Choose Destination
Semin Cell Biol. 1994 Feb;5(1):65-74.

Emerging principles of molecular signal processing by mitral/tufted cells in the olfactory bulb.

Author information

Department of Neuroscience, Osaka Bioscience Institute, Japan.


The olfactory system shares many principles of functional organization with other sensory systems, but differs in that the sensory input is in the form of molecular information carried in odor molecules. Current studies are providing new insights into how this information is processed. In analogy with the spatial receptive fields of visual neurons, the molecular receptive range of olfactory cells is defined as the range of odor molecules that will affect the firing of that cell. Olfactory receptor molecules belong to a large gene family; it is hypothesized that individual receptor molecules may have relatively broad molecular receptive ranges, and that an individual receptor cell need therefore express only one or a few different types of receptors to cover a broad range. Mitral/tufted cells have narrower molecular receptive ranges, comprising molecules with related structures (odotopes). This is believed to reflect processing through the olfactory glomeruli, each glomerulus acting as a convergence center for related inputs. Varying overlapping specificities of receptor cells, glomeruli and mitral/tufted cells appear to provide the basis for discrimination of odor molecules, in analogy with discrimination of color in the visual system.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center