Circular RNAs (circRNAs) are a novel class of non-coding RNAs that form covalently closed continuous loop. Massive RNA sequencing data have characterized circRNAs are highly abundant and evolutionarily conserved in the mammalian brain. Some circRNAs are shown to regulate microRNA function, and others may play a role in transcriptional control. However, the biological function of most circular RNAs is unclear.
We are interested in potential functions of circRNAs on olfactory sensory neuron development. The olfactory sensory neurons (OSNs) express olfactory receptors (ORs) that mediate the interaction with odorous compounds. Each OSN expresses only one functional OR gene in an allelic exclusive manner. Furthermore, OSNs expressing the same type of OR converge their axons to a specific target glomerulus in the olfactory bulb (OB). The OSN has a unique capacity for regeneration to replace degenerating receptor neurons and OSN is amenable to genetic manipulation and direct circuit visualization in vivo. Through generating mice that either overexpress or downregulate circRNAs in OSN I will identify circRNAs that may regulate olfactory sensory axon targeting.