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J Neurosci. 2010 Jul 14;30(28):9523-32. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0867-10.2010.

Embryonic Pax7-expressing progenitors contribute multiple cell types to the postnatal olfactory epithelium.

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Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06520-8103, USA.


Prolonged neurogenesis driven by stem/progenitor cells is a hallmark of the olfactory epithelium (OE), beginning at the placodal stages in the embryo and continuing throughout adult life. Despite the progress made to identify and study the regulation of adult OE progenitors, our knowledge of embryonic OE precursors and their cellular contributions to the adult OE has been stalled by the lack of markers able to distinguish individual candidate progenitors. Here we identify embryonic OE Pax7+ progenitors, detected at embryonic day 10.5 (E10.5) in the olfactory pit with an antigen profile and location previously assigned to presumptive OE stem cells. Using Cre-loxP technology (Pax7-cre/ROSA YFP mice), we expose a wide range of derivatives, including CNS and olfactory neurons, non-neuronal cells, and olfactory ensheathing glia, all made from embryonic Pax7+ cells. Importantly, the expression of Pax7 in the embryonic OE is downregulated from E15.5, such that after birth, no Pax7+ cells are found in the OE, and thus the progenitor population here identified is restricted to embryonic stages. Our results provide the first evidence for a population of Pax7-expressing embryonic progenitors that contribute to multiple OE lineages and demonstrate novel insights into the unique spatiotemporal patterning of the postnatal OE.

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