In the mouse olfactory epithelium, there are about ten million olfactory sensory neurons, each expressing a single type of odorant receptor out of ∼1000. Olfactory sensory neurons expressing the same odorant receptor converge their axons to a specific set of glomeruli on the olfactory bulb. How odorant receptors play an instructive role in the projection of axons to the olfactory bulb has been one of the major issues of developmental neurobiology. Recent studies revealed previously overlooked roles of odorant receptor-derived cAMP signals in the axonal projection of olfactory sensory neurons; the levels of cAMP and neuronal activity appear to determine the expression levels of axon guidance/sorting molecules and thereby direct the axonal projection of olfactory sensory neurons. These findings provide new insights as to how peripheral inputs instruct neuronal circuit formation in the mammalian brain.
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