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Gene switching and the stability of odorant receptor gene choice.

Individual olfactory sensory neurons express only a single odorant receptor from a large family of genes, and this singularity is an essential feature in models of olfactory perception. We have devised a genetic strategy to examine the stability of receptor choice. We observe that immature olfactory sensory neurons that express a given odorant receptor can switch receptor expression, albeit at low frequency. Neurons that express a mutant receptor gene switch receptor transcription with significantly greater probability, suggesting that the expression of a functional odorant receptor elicits a feedback signal that terminates switching. This process of receptor gene switching assures that a neuron will ultimately express a functional receptor and that the choice of this receptor will remain stable for the life of the cell.

Pubmed ID: 15186780


  • Shykind BM
  • Rohani SC
  • O'Donnell S
  • Nemes A
  • Mendelsohn M
  • Sun Y
  • Axel R
  • Barnea G



Publication Data

June 11, 2004

Associated Grants

  • Agency: NCI NIH HHS, Id: 2P01CA23767

Mesh Terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Lineage
  • Feedback, Physiological
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Genes, Reporter
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Growth Cones
  • Integrases
  • Luminescent Proteins
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mutation
  • Olfactory Bulb
  • Olfactory Receptor Neurons
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, Odorant
  • Smell
  • Synapses
  • Transcriptional Activation
  • Viral Proteins