Glycosylation patterns are sexually dimorphic throughout development of the olfactory system in Manduca sexta

Nicholas J. Gibson, John G. Hildebrand, Leslie P. Tolbert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


In the moth Manduca sexta, development of the adult olfactory system depends on complex interactions between olfactory receptor neurons in the antenna, antennal-lobe neurons in the brain, and several classes of glial cells. As one approach to characterizing molecules that may play roles in these interactions, we used lectins to screen antennae and antennal lobes at different stages of adult development. We find that each of the major neural cell types has a distinct pattern of labeling by lectins. Effects of enzymatic and other treatments on lectin labeling lead us to conclude that the predominant lectin ligands are: glycosphingolipids and an O-linked, fucose-containing glycoprotein on axons of olfactory receptor neurons, O-linked glycoproteins on antennal-lobe neurons, and N-linked glycoproteins on all classes of glial cells in the primary olfactory pathway. Wheat germ agglutinin labels all olfactory axons uniformly during much of development, but labeling becomes restricted to the pheromone-responsive olfactory receptor neurons in the adult male. Succinylated WGA reveals differences in these axon classes earlier, as glomerului develop from protoglomeruli. The adult female displays a less pronounced difference in labeling of axons targeting ordinary and sexually dimorphic glomeruli. Differences in labeling of receptor axons targeted to ordinary and sexually dimorphic glomeruli may be correlated with differences in function or connectivity in different regions of the antennal lobe.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 9 2004


  • Antennal system
  • Glycoproteins
  • Glycosphingolipids
  • Lectins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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