Researchers use state-of-the-art technology to map mouse sensory glomeruli

The team identified a map of where each different type of sensory neuron projects that information in the brain. Credit: Wangetal. Adaptation source: Shannon DeMaria and John Ngai (2010) JCB.

Detecting and distinguishing odors is an important ability to help animals survive and interact more effectively with their surroundings. In mammals, odors are known to be first processed by sensory neurons. Smell neurons are a class of neurons that continuously detect and transmit odor-related information.

They are Neuron Their project Axon (That is, the long thread-like part of the nerve cell that conducts the impulse) Olfactory bulb (OB). This process leads to the formation of glomeruli (ie, clusters of nerve endings).

The fixed position of the glomeruli in the OB suggests that those tissues may play an important role in the perception of mammalian odor. This has led some neuroscientists to scrutinize clusters of these nerve endings in the hope of revealing more information about mammals. Smell system..

Researchers at Massachusetts University School of Medicine, Harvard University Broad Institute and MIT, and Stanford University recently conducted a more in-depth study of the tissue of the mouse olfactory glomerulus using a range of state-of-the-art technologies and techniques. .. Their analysis is Nature Neuroscience Allowed them to generate a detailed map of the location of the sensory glomeruli of the mouse OB.

“We were trying to address a fundamental unsolved problem in neurobiology that we find fascinating,” said Paul L. Greer, one of the researchers who conducted the study. Medical Xpress.. “That is, I was interested in how animals could detect and distinguish literally millions of different compounds. These compounds can differ in only one atom. According to the research of many extraordinary scientists. , A great deal of light was shed on this problem, but I still don’t know. I know exactly how this calculation is performed by the brain. “

Other research teams have previously examined the glomerular tissue of OBs, but so far have only identified the location of a limited subset of these clusters. As a result, it was very difficult to infer the relationship between the position of the glomerulus and the identification of odors.

In their study, Greer and his colleagues took advantage of recent technological advances to create more detailed map glomerular locations within mouse OBs. More specifically, they used a combination of single-cell RNA sequencing, spatial transcriptomics, and machine learning techniques.

Researchers use state-of-the-art technology to map mouse sensory glomeruli

This image shows that the map identified by the researchers is stereotyped in all animals within the same species. This suggests that this map is important for deciphering what the animals are smelling. Credit: Wangetal. Adaptation source: Shannon DeMaria and John Ngai (2010) JCB.

Single-cell RNA sequencing allows researchers to create transcription profiles for thousands of individual cells so they can understand which genes are expressed in what amount. In their experiments, Greer and his colleagues used this technique to determine which genes are expressed by each type of cell in the mouse nose.

“There are more than 1,000 types Sensory neurons, Cells involved in the detection of odors in the environment, and each of these different types of sensory neurons can detect the expression of a unique set of chemicals, “Glia explained. Each of these different types of sensory neurons represents a unique combination of genes. We believe that these genes tell sensory neurons where to send information in the brain. “

After that, Greer and his colleagues Machine learning algorithm Analyze the data collected using single-cell RNA sequencing. This allowed us to create a map outlining the brain regions where most of the sensory neurons in mouse OBs transmitted odor-related information.

“We believe this study provides the best roadmap to date for how olfactory information is transmitted to the brain, which is the mechanism the brain employs to decipher the identity of odors. We believe it will help the large scientific community trying to uncover, “Greer said.

“We think this is an important step forward, but it’s just a step forward and there are many things that haven’t been revealed yet.”

In the future, mouse olfactory glomerular maps created by this team of researchers could be used to conduct more accurate studies investigating the relationship between glomerular position within mouse OBs and odor processing. I can do it. This map provides new and valuable insights, but it is still incomplete. In the next study, Greer and his colleagues plan to fill in the missing holes and then experimentally summarize and validate the results.

“In addition, the cells studied in recent studies are just the first connection to a very complex circuit,” Greer added. “Future work to identify the map of cells further below the signaling network is important to characterize how odors are decoded and the internal perception of the animal’s external environment is generated.

Scientists decipher how the brain perceives the sense of smell

For more information:
I-Hao Wang et al, Spatial transcriptional reconstruction of mouse sensory glomerular maps suggests principles of odor processing, Nature Neuroscience (2022). DOI: 10.1038 / s41593-022-01030-8

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Researchers use state-of-the-art technology to map mouse sensory glomeruli

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