Variation in olfactory neuron repertoires is genetically controlled and environmentally modulated

Ximena Ibarra-Soria, Thiago S. Nakahara, Jingtao Lilue, Yue Jiang, Casey Trimmer, Mateus A.A. Souza, Paulo H.M. Netto, Kentaro Ikegami, Nicolle R. Murphy, Mairi Kusma, Andrea Kirton, Luis Miguel Rodrigues Saraiva, Thomas M. Keane, Hiroaki Matsunami, Joel Mainland, Fabio Papes, Darren W. Logan

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18 Citations (Scopus)


The mouse olfactory sensory neuron (OSN) repertoire is composed of 10 million cells and each expresses one olfactory receptor (OR) gene from a pool of over 1000. Thus, the nose is sub-stratified into more than a thousand OSN subtypes. Here, we employ and validate an RNAsequencing-based method to quantify the abundance of all OSN subtypes in parallel, and investigate the genetic and environmental factors that contribute to neuronal diversity. We find that the OSN subtype distribution is stereotyped in genetically identical mice, but varies extensively between different strains. Further, we identify cis-acting genetic variation as the greatest component influencing OSN composition and demonstrate independence from OR function. However, we show that olfactory stimulation with particular odorants results in modulation of dozens of OSN subtypes in a subtle but reproducible, specific and time-dependent manner. Together, these mechanisms generate a highly individualized olfactory sensory system by promoting neuronal diversity.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere21476
Publication statusPublished - 25 Apr 2017


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)

Cite this

Ibarra-Soria, X., Nakahara, T. S., Lilue, J., Jiang, Y., Trimmer, C., Souza, M. A. A., Netto, P. H. M., Ikegami, K., Murphy, N. R., Kusma, M., Kirton, A., Rodrigues Saraiva, L. M., Keane, T. M., Matsunami, H., Mainland, J., Papes, F., & Logan, D. W. (2017). Variation in olfactory neuron repertoires is genetically controlled and environmentally modulated. eLife, 6, [e21476].