Cell 2011 Nov 11;147(4):907-21
Khan, M; Vaes, E; Mombaerts, P
Max Planck Institute of Biophysics, 60438 Frankfurt, Germany.
Each olfactory sensory neuron (OSN) in mouse chooses one of 1,200 odorant receptor (OR) genes for expression. OR genes are chosen for expression by greatly varying numbers of OSNs. The mechanisms that regulate the probability of OR gene choice remain unclear. Here, we have applied the NanoString platform of fluorescent barcodes and digital readout to measure RNA levels of 577 OR genes in a single reaction, with probes designed against coding sequences. In an inbred mouse strain with a targeted deletion in the P element, we find that this element regulates OR gene choice differentially across its cluster of 24 OR genes. Importantly, the fold changes of NanoString counts in ΔP or ΔH mice are in very close agreement with the fold changes of cell counts, determined by in situ hybridization. Thus, the P and H elements regulate the probability of OR gene choice, not OR transcript level per OSN.