A diffusible signal attracts olfactory sensory axons toward their target in the developing brain of the moth

Lynne A. Oland, Wendy M. Pott, Charles T. Howard, Mark Inlow, Jocelyn Buckingham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The signals that olfactory receptor axons use to navigate to their target in the CNS are still not well understood. In the moth Manduca sexta, the primary olfactory pathway develops postembryonically, and the receptor axons navigate from an experimentally accessible sensory epithelium to the brain along a pathway long enough for detailed study of regions in which axon behavior changes. The current experiments ask whether diffusible factors contribute to receptor axon guidance. Explants were made from the antennal receptor epithelium and co-cultured in a collagen gel matrix with slices of various regions of the brain. Receptor axons were attracted toward the central regions of the brain, including the protocerebrum and antennal lobe. Receptor axons growing into a slice of the most proximal region of the antennal nerve, where axon sorting normally occurs, showed no directional preference. When the antennal lobe was included in the slice, the receptor axons entering the sorting region grew directly toward the antennal lobe. Taken together with the previous in vivo experiments, the current results suggest that an attractive diffusible factor can serve as one cue to direct misrouted olfactory receptor axons toward the medial regions of the brain, where local cues guide them to the antennal lobe. They also suggest that under normal circumstances, in which the receptor axons follow a pre-existing pupal nerve to the antennal lobe, the diffusible factor emanating from the lobe acts in parallel and at short range to maintain the fidelity of the path into the antennal lobe.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)24-40
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Neurobiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2003


  • Insect
  • Manduca sexta
  • Olfaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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