Olfaction starts from olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) that express olfactory marker protein (OMP). OMP deficit results in various behavioural phenotypes indicating olfactory dysfunction due to the impaired responses of ORNs. Recently, OMP was demonstrated to maintain strong olfaction by buffering olfactory cAMP signalling. However, the impact of OMP on olfaction behaviours, the assessment of which requires time to evaluate odour values, remains largely unexplained. Here, we examined the behaviour of heterozygous OMP+/GFP (HET) mice vs. homologous GFP-knock-in OMP-deficient OMP GFP/ GFP (KI) mice during the olfactory investigation of odours with different values. When a swab containing an organic odour was presented, both HET and KI mice swiftly approached and investigated the swab with gradual habituation over test sessions. However, when another similar odour was presented, KI mice investigated the new swab much less intensively than HET mice. Next, mice were placed in a chamber with an aversive odour source in one corner of a test chamber. KI mice more frequently approached the compartment containing the aversive odour source than HET mice. Finally, we trained mice to associate two odours with solutions by utilizing reward-penalty values. HET mice stayed close to the reward-associated odour, while KI mice initially approached the reward-associated odour, occasionally turned towards the penalty-associated odour source and eventually stayed in the reward-odour compartment. Histologically, c-Fos-expressing juxtaglomerular cells were fewer and more broadly distributed around glomeruli in KI mice than HET mice. In conclusion, OMP contributes to the evaluation of odour values by glomerular processing during an olfactory investigation task.
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