In Vitro Analyses of Interactions between Olfactory Receptor Growth Cones and Glial Cells That Mediate Axon Sorting and Glomerulus Formation

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During development, the axons of olfactory receptor neurons project to the CNS and converge on glomerular targets. For vertebrate and invertebrate olfactory systems, neuron-glia interactions have been hypothesized to regulate the sorting and targeting of olfactory receptor axons and the development of glomeruli. In the moth Manduca sexta, glial reduction experiments have directly implicated two types of central olfactory glia, the sorting zone- and neuropil-associated glia, in key events in olfactory development, including axon sorting and glomerulus stabilization. By using cocultures containing central olfactory glial cells and explants of olfactory receptor epithelium, we show that olfactory receptor growth cones elaborate extensively and cease advancement following contact with sorting zone- and neuropil-associated glial cells. These effects on growth cone behavior were specific to central olfactory glia; peripheral glial cells of the olfactory nerve failed to elicit similar responses in olfactory receptor growth cones. We propose that sorting zone- and neuropil-associated glial cells similarly modify axon behavior in vitro by altering the adhesive properties and cytoskeleton of olfactory receptor growth cones and that these in vitro changes may underlie functionally relevant changes in growth cone behavior in vivo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)478-495
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 10 2004



  • Development
  • Manduca sexta
  • Neuron-glia interaction
  • Olfaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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