Department of Zoology and Animal Biology, and NCCR Frontiers in Genetics, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland.
In mammals, perception of pheromones is based on the expression in each vomeronasal sensory neuron of a limited set of receptor genes, chosen among a large repertoire. Here, we report an extremely tight control of the monogenic and monoallelic transcription of the V1rb2 receptor gene. Combining genetic and electrophysiological approaches, we show that the transcription of a non-functional V1r allele leads to the coexpression of another, functional V1r gene. The choice of this coexpressed gene surprisingly includes genes located on the cluster homologous to the one from which the mutant allele is transcribed. However, V1r genes located in cis relative to the transcribed mutant allele are excluded from the coexpression choice. Our observations strongly suggest a monogenic regulatory mechanism acting (a) at a general level, via the expression of the V1r receptor itself, and (b) at a more local level, defined by the V1r gene cluster.