Experimental study of early olfactory neuron differentiation and nerve formation using quail-chick chimeras
International Journal of Developmental Biology
For the formation of a functional olfactory system, the key processes are neuronal differentiation, including the expression of one or the other olfactory receptors, the correct formation of the nerve and organization of periphero-central connections. These processes take place during embryonic development starting from early stages. Consequently, avian embryos afford an attractive model to study these mechanisms. Taking advantage of species-specific equipment of olfactory receptors genes in
... ceptors genes in different bird species, interspecific avian chimeras were set up by grafting early chick olfactory placodes in same stage quail embryos. Their analysis was performed using different complementary approaches. In situ hybridisation using probes to different chick olfactory receptor (COR) genes indicated that the choice of expression of an olfactory receptor by a neuron is independent of the environment of the olfactory placode and of interactions with the central nervous system. Futhermore, a chick olfactory receptor gene subgroup (COR3 ), absent in the host genome, was expressed by neurons from the graft. The question was then raised of the consequences of such heterospecific differentiation on axonal projections and fiber convergence. The DiI labeling of olfactory fibres in chimeras revealed anomalies in the formation of the nerve from the chick graft. In agreement with the hypothesis of olfactory receptor (OR) involvement in axonal guidance and periphero-central synapse organisation, the presence of migrating cells and axonal fibres from the graft, expressing foreign ORs and having different interactions with the host environment than the host fibres and migrating cells, might explain these anomalies.