Assoc. Prof. Dr. Stefan H. FUSS

Boğaziçi University
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Kuzey Park, 319
34342 Bebek - Istanbul
+90 (212) 359 7229
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Odorant receptor gene choice

The nose is a remarkably sensitive system able to detect environmental chemicals in trace amounts and to discriminate among structurally very similar molecules. The discriminatory power of the olfactory sensory system depends largely on the specificity of chemosensory receptor cells in the nose and their proper connection to the brain. Each individual olfactory sensory neuron expresses only one allele of a single olfactory receptor (OR) gene from a much larger genomic repertoire. The mechanisms underlying OR gene choice are not fully understood, but epigenetic mechanisms in conjunction with signaling downstream of the receptor protein have been shown to play a role. Interestingly, however, not all OR genes have the same potential to be chosen for expression and spatially seggregated patterns of OR

expression have been described within the peripheral sensory tissue. We are interested in understanding how specific transcription factors bias OR gene choice by interacting with regulatory sites in OR gene promoters and how spatially distinct patterns of OR gene expression are generated during development.

Neurogenesis and and Olfactory Sensory Neuron maturation

Olfactory sensory neurons and taste cells are the only nerve cells in direct physical contact with the environment, rendering them vulnerable to environmental insult. Thus, olfactory sensory neurons have a short and limited life span of 30 to 90 days and need to be replaced throughout adult life to maintain a sense of

smell. We wish to understand the properties of stem / progenitor cells that contribute to adult neurogenesis. In addition to the maintenance of sensory neurons that are lost on a daily basis, the zebrafish olfactory system shows high regenerative potential following tissue damage. It appears that a distinct set of stem / progenitor cells is recruited during the injury response and we wish to understand the differences in maintenance and repair neurogenesis on a molecular and physiological basis.

Selected Publications

  • Bayramli X, Kocagöz Y, Sakizli U, and Fuss SH (2017)
    Patterned arrangements of olfactory receptor gene expression in zebrafish are established by radial movement of specified olfactory sensory neurons.
    Scientific Reports, 7:5572, doi:10.1038/s41598-017-06041-1

  • Fuss SH, Zhu Y, and Mombaerts P. (2013)
    Odorant receptor gene choice and axonal wiring in mice with deletion mutations in the odorant receptor gene SR1.
    Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience, 56:212-224.

  • Fuss SH. and Ray A. (2009)
    Mechanisms of odorant receptor gene choice in Drosophila and vertebrates.
    Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience, 41:101-112.

  • Bozza T, Vassalli A, Fuss S, Zhang JJ, Weiland B, Pacifico R, Feinstein, P, and Mombaerts P (2009)
    Mapping of Class I and Class II Odorant Receptors to Glomerular Domains by Two Distinct Types of Olfactory Sensory Neurons in the Mouse.
    Neuron, 61(2):220-233.

  • Fuss SH, Omura M, and Mombaerts P (2007)
    Local and cis effects of the H element on expression of odorant receptor genes in mouse.
    Cell, 130:373-384.