The building of the topographic map in the mammalian olfactory bulb is explained by a model based on two axes along which sensory neurons are guided: one dorso-ventral and the other antero-posterior. This latter axis relies on specific expression levels of Neuropilin 1 (Nrp1). To evaluate the role played by this receptor in this process, we used an in vivo genetic approach to decrease or suppress it in specific neuronal populations and at different time points during axonal targeting. We observed, in neurons that express either the M71 or the M72 odorant receptors, that the inactivation of Nrp1 leads to two distinct wiring alterations, whose incidence depends on the time at which Nrp1 expression is altered: first, a surprising dorsal shift of the M71 and M72 glomeruli that often fuse with their contralateral counterparts, and second, the formation of anteriorized glomeruli. The two phenotypes are partly recapitulated in mice lacking the Nrp1 ligand Semaphorin 3A (Sema3A), and in mice whose sensory neurons express a Nrp1 mutant unable to bind Sema3A. Finally, by using a mosaic conditional approach, we show that M71 axonal fibers can bypass the Nrp1 signals that define their target area, since they are hijacked and coalesce with Nrp1-deficient M71-expressing axons that target somewhere else. Together, these findings show drastically different axonal targeting outcomes dependent on the timing at which Nrp1/Sema3A signaling is altered.
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