Science 2003 Dec 30;302(5653):2088-94. Epub 2003 Oct 30.
Department of Biophysics and Biochemistry, Graduate School of Science, University of Tokyo, Tokyo 113-0032, Japan.
In the mouse olfactory system, each olfactory sensory neuron (OSN) expresses only one odorant receptor (OR) gene in a monoallelic and mutually exclusive manner. Such expression forms the genetic basis for OR-instructed axonal projection of OSNs to the olfactory bulb of the brain during development. Here, we identify an upstream cis-acting DNA region that activates the OR gene cluster in mouse and allows the expression of only one OR gene within the cluster. Deletion of the coding region of the expressed OR gene or a naturally occurring frame-shift mutation allows a second OR gene to be expressed. We propose that stochastic activation of only one OR gene within the cluster and negative feedback regulation by that OR gene product are necessary to ensure the one receptor-one neuron rule.