Peter Mombaerts, M.D., Ph.D.

Max Planck Research Unit for Neurogenetics
Max-von-Laue-Strasse 3
D-60438 Frankfurt

Tel +49 69 6303 4000


Scientific Focus

In the mouse, the sense of smell (olfaction) is mediated by >1200 odorant receptors, the largest gene family in the genome. These receptors are G-protein coupled. Every olfactory sensory neuron in the main olfactory epithelium is thought to express only one odorant receptor gene, from one allele. Axons of neurons that express the same receptor coalesce into the same structures in the olfactory bulb, termed glomeruli, where they form synapses with second-order neurons in the olfactory pathway. It is now well established that odorant receptors are intimately involved in axonal coalescence, but the mechanisms remain obscure. Our main interests are odorant receptor gene choice, axonal wiring, and olfactory coding. Our research is done in the laboratory mouse.


- Gene targeting in embryonic stem cells
- Transgenesis by pronuclear injection
- Cloning by nuclear transfer
- Fluorescent in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry
- Confocal and two-photon microscopy
- Patch-clamp electrophysiology
- NanoString gene expression

Selected Publications

Khan, M., Vaes, E., Mombaerts, P. (2013). Temporal patterns of odorant receptor gene expression in adult and aged mice. Mol. Cell. Neurosci., doi: 10.1016/j.mcn.2013.08.001.

Fuss, S.H., Zhu, Y., Mombaerts, P. (2013). Odorant receptor gene choice and axonal wiring in mice with deletion mutations in the odorant receptor gene SR1. Mol. Cell. Neurosci. 56, 212-224.

Lam, R., Mombaerts, P. (2013). Odorant responsiveness of embryonic mouse olfactory sensory neurons expressing the odorant receptors S1 or MOR23. Eur. J. Neurosci. 38, 2210-2217.

Khan, M., Vaes, E., and Mombaerts, P. (2011). Regulation of the probability of mouse odorant receptor gene choice. Cell 147, 907-921.

Ishii, T., and Mombaerts, P. (2011). Coordinated coexpression of two vomeronasal receptor V2R genes per neuron in the mouse. Mol. Cell. Neurosci. 46, 397-408.

Vassalli, A., Feinstein, P., Mombaerts, P. (2011). Homeodomain binding motifs modulate the probability of odorant receptor gene choice. Mol. Cell. Neurosci. 46, 381396.

Bozza, T., Vassalli, A., Fuss, S., Zhang, J., Weiland, B., Pacifico, R., Feinstein, P., and Mombaerts, P. (2009). Mapping of class I and class II odorant receptors to glomerular domains by two distinct types of olfactory sensory neurons in the mouse. Neuron 61, 220-233.

Ishii, T., and Mombaerts, P. (2008). Expression of non-classical class I major histocompatibility genes defines a tripartite organization of the mouse vomeronasal system. J. Neurosci. 28, 2332-2341.

Fuss, S.H., Omura, M., and Mombaerts, P. (2007). Local and cis effects of the H element on expression of odorant receptor genes in mouse. Cell 130, 373-384.

Mombaerts, P. (2006). Axonal wiring in the mouse olfactory system. Annu. Rev. Cell Dev. Biol. 22, 713-737.

Feinstein, P., Bozza, T., Rodriguez, I., Vassalli, A., and Mombaerts, P. (2004). Axon guidance of mouse olfactory sensory neurons by odorant receptors and the β2 adrenergic receptor. Cell 117, 833-846.

Feinstein, P., and Mombaerts, P. (2004). A contextual model for axonal sorting into glomeruli in the mouse olfactory system. Cell 117, 817-831.

Mombaerts, P. (2004). Odorant receptor gene choice in olfactory sensory neurons: the one receptor-one neuron hypothesis revisited. Curr. Opin. Neurobiol. 14, 31-36.

Mombaerts, P. (2004). Genes and ligands for odorant, vomeronasal and taste receptors. Nat. Rev. Neurosci. 5, 263-278.

About us