Differential antigen expression during metamorphosis in the tripartite olfactory system of the African clawed frog, Xenopus laevis

M. A. Petti, S. F. Matheson, G. D. Burd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


In the adult African clawed frog, Xenopus laevis, olfactory epithelium is housed in three separate nasal cavities: the principal cavity, the middle cavity, and the vomeronasal organ. The sensory epithelium in each of these cavities has distinct cellular features, and presumed physiological and behavioral functions, which arise during metamorphosis. Most notably, the middle cavity is formed de novo, and the principal cavity is transformed from a larval sensory epithelium with water exposure to an adult olfactory epithelium with air exposure. To understand the cellular nature of this plasticity more clearly, we characterized the staining patterns generated in the olfactory system of X. laevis with a new monoclonal antibody, anti-E7. The olfactory epithelium is first stained with anti-E7 during late embryonic development. Transection of the olfactory nerves during metamorphosis eliminates all staining and indicates that the staining is associated with mature or nearly mature olfactory receptor neurons. The antibody diffusely stains the vomeronasal organ throughout development and in adults. In the larval principal cavity, the olfactory receptor neurons are brightly stained, but this cellular staining is lost after metamorphosis. The mucus from Bowman's glands in the principal cavity, however, is intensely stained in adults. The middle cavity, throughout development and in adulthood, has the same staining characteristics as the larval principal cavity. Thus, the E7 antibody can distinguish the three areas of the olfactory epithelium, allowing measurement of sensory epithelium volume, and serves as an excellent marker for the changes in the sensory epithelium that occur during metamorphosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)383-396
Number of pages14
JournalCell and Tissue Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1999


  • Olfactory bulb
  • Olfactory epithelium development
  • Olfactory receptor neurons

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology
  • Cell Biology


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