Editors' ChoiceOlfaction

One Smell per Cell

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Science's STKE  06 Jan 2004:
Vol. 2004, Issue 214, pp. tw9
DOI: 10.1126/stke.2142004tw9

Each olfactory neuron in the mouse nasal epithelium expresses only one of more than 1000 olfactory receptor genes. Such limited expression is reminiscent of how antibody genes are selected in the immune system, but unlike antibody gene selection, the mechanism of olfactory receptor gene selection is unknown. Serizawa et al. (see the Perspective by Lewcock and Reed) now show that a DNA region upstream of an olfactory receptor gene cluster preferentially selects which olfactory receptor gene is expressed in a stochastic fashion. Once selected, the product of the expressed gene prevents expression of any of the other olfactory receptor genes in the cluster and ensures maintenance of the "one neuron, one receptor" rule.

S. Serizawa, K. Miyamichi, H. Nakatani, M. Suzuki, M. Saito, Y. Yoshihara, H. Sakano, Negative feedback regulation ensures the one receptor-one olfactory neuron rule in mouse. Science 302, 2088-2094 (2003). [Abstract] [Full Text]

J. W. Lewcock, R. R. Reed, ORs rule the roost in the olfactory system. Science 302, 2078-2079 (2003). [Abstract] [Full Text]