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NEURONAL activity may lead to long lasting changes in cell phenotype through induction of genes such as c-fos which encode transcriptional regulatory factors. Odor-activated olfactory bulb cells exhibit increases in c-fos mRNA expression. The present study examined whether odor stimulation of awake rats also leads to increases in Fos protein in these cells. The phenotype of Fosimmunoreactive cells was partially characterized using double-immunoperoxidase staining. Odor exposure increased Fos-immunoreactivity (IR) in specific sets of olfactory bulb neurons. Fos-IR was not co-localized with IR for glial fibrillary acidic protein, but was co-localized with tyrosine hydroxylase (TH)-IR in a subpopulation of dopaminergic neurons, suggesting that bulbar TH expression may be regulated in part by a Fos mechanism.

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