Expression of pheromone receptor gene families during olfactory development in the mouse: expression of a V1 receptor in the main olfactory epithelium


Dr R.J. Bicknell, as above.


In the mouse, two large gene families, V1R and V2R, encoding putative pheromone receptors have been described. Studies have suggested a homotypic recognition role for V1Rs and V2Rs during development in the targeting of vomeronasal axons to specific sets of glomeruli in the accessory olfactory bulb (AOB). Analysis of the onset of expression of the V1R and V2R gene families in developing vomeronasal neurons using polymerase chain reaction and in situ hybridization now suggests that a role for these receptors in the organization of axon projections is only likely at the final stages of targeting within the AOB. Surprisingly, our studies reveal expression of a V1Rd receptor in scattered cells within the main olfactory epithelium, suggesting that limited pheromone detection may also take place in this structure. The pheromone sensory neurons of the vomeronasal system and the neuroendocrine gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH) neurons that regulate fertility both arise from progenitor cells of the nasal placode. The development of these two cell types is intimately linked, and the GnRH neuron population migrates into the forebrain during embryogenesis in close association with a subset of vomeronasal sensory axons; how GnRH neurons recognize this axon subset is unknown. We report selective expression of a V1Ra gene in the clonal NLT GnRH cell line, raising the possibility of a similar role for V1Rs or V2Rs in the directed migration of GnRH neurons. However, no expression of this gene or of other V1Rs and V2Rs is detectable at the cellular level in migrating GnRH neurons in the mouse.