faculty & research


Richard Axel

Email: ra27@columbia.edu
Phone: 212-305-6915
Location: HHSC-1014


Mammals possess an olfactory system of inordinate discriminatory power. We are studying how the diversity and specificity of olfactory perception is accomplished. Analysis of the patterns of expression of the odorant receptor genes, coupled with earlier electrophysiologic experiments, have provided a logic for olfactory discrimination. Individual olfactory sensory neurons express only one of a thousand receptor genes. Neurons expressing a given receptor, although randomly distributed in domains in the epithelium, project their axons to a small number of topographically fixed loci or glomeruli in the olfactory bulb. These data support a model of olfactory coding in whichdiscrimination of odor quality would result from the detection of specific spatial patterns of activity in the olfactory bulb.

Selected Publications

2000 Lin DM, Wang F, Lowe G, Gold GH, Axel R, Ngai J, Brunet L Formation of precise connections in the olfactory bulb occurs in the absence of odorant-evoked neuronal activity. Neuron 26:69-80.

2000 Vosshall LB, Wong AM, and Axel R. An Olfactory Sensory Map in the Fly Brain. Cell, 102:147-159.

2001 Gogos JA, Osborne J, Nemes A, Mendelsohn M, Axel R. Related Articles Genetic ablation and restoration of the olfactory topographic map. Cell, 103(4):609-20.

2001 Scott K, Brady R Jr, Cravchik A, Morozov P, Rzhetsky A, Zuker C, Axel R. A chemosensory gene family encoding candidate gustatory and olfactory receptors in Drosophila. Cell, 104(5):661-73.

2001 Lane RP, Cutforth T, Young J, Athanasiou M, Friedman C, Rowen L, Evans G, Axel R, Hood L, Trask BJ. Genomic analysis of orthologous mouse and human olfactory receptor loci. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 98(13):7390-5.

2002 Lane RP, Cutforth T, Axel R, Hood L, Trask BJ. Sequence analysis of mouse vomeronasal receptor gene clusters reveals common promoter motifs and a history of recent expansion. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2002 Jan 8;99(1):291-6.

2002 Leypold BG, Yu CR, Leinders-Zufall T, Kim MM, Zufall F, Axel R. Altered sexual and social behaviors in trp2 mutant mice. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A.

2002 Wong AM, Wang JW, Axel R. Spatial Representation of the Glomerular Map in the Drosophila Protocerebrum. Cell.