• accessory olfactory bulb;
  • calcium imaging;
  • coculture;
  • mouse;
  • rat


Vomeronasal receptors from the V1R and V2R gene families mediate the detection of chemical stimuli such as pheromones via the vomeronasal organ (VNO). The differential expression of vomeronasal receptors might contribute in part to a variety of pheromonal effects, which are different sexually, developmentally and even individually. However, little is known about the mechanisms controlling vomeronasal receptor expression. Cultured vomeronasal sensory neurons (VSNs) bear phenotypic resemblance to the intact VNO but they remain immature. Because indices of VSN maturation are increased by coculture with the target cells for VSNs, accessory olfactory bulb (AOB) neurons, AOB neurons may regulate vomeronasal receptor expression and functional maturation in VSNs. To test this hypothesis, we examined the expression of V2R-type vomeronasal receptors (VR1 and VR4) and chemosensory responsiveness in VNOs cocultured with AOB neurons. Immunoblot and immunocytochemical analysis revealed that the coculture of VNOs with AOB neurons resulted in a greater expression of VR1 and VR4 after 10 days than VNOs cultured alone. Moreover, calcium imaging analysis showed that cocultured VNOs responded to urine components applied iontophoretically into their cavities with a time course similar to the V2R expression, in contrast to singly cultured VNOs that displayed no response. These results demonstrate that AOB neurons induce the expression of vomeronasal receptors in VSNs, allowing them to function.