Olfactory sensory neurons expressing a given odorant receptor converge axons onto a few topographically fixed glomeruli in the olfactory bulb, leading to establishment of the odor map. Here, we report that BIG-2/contactin-4, an axonal glycoprotein belonging to the immunoglobulin superfamily, is expressed in a subpopulation of mouse olfactory sensory neurons. A mosaic pattern of glomerular arrangement is observed with strongly BIG-2-positive, weakly positive, and negative axon terminals in the olfactory bulb, which is overlapping but not identical with those of Kirrel2 and ephrin-A5. There is a close correlation between the BIG-2 expression level and the odorant receptor choice in individual sensory neurons. In BIG-2-deficient mice, olfactory sensory neurons expressing a given odorant receptor frequently innervate multiple glomeruli at ectopic locations. These results suggest that BIG-2 is one of the axon guidance molecules crucial for the formation and maintenance of functional odor map in the olfactory bulb.
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