In this exciting new paper, published in The EMBO Journal, Bragado Alonso et al. examined a mouse model with increased neurogenesis in the SVZ through conditional expression of cell cycle regulators. They found that supernumerary neurons matured in the same manner as those naturally generated and were integrated into the olfactory bulb similarly. They tested these mice on olfactory distinction tasks ranging in difficulty from easy to complex and found that the increased neurogenesis in the mutant mice made no difference to performance in the easy odour distinction tasks but was a significant advantage to the mutants when the task was more challenging – the mutant mice performed better.
The findings in this paper have not only highlighted the utility of adult neurogenesis in SVZ for olfaction distinction but provide an appealing proof of concept model. In principle, the controlled multiplication of somatic stem cells can be applied to other tissues for further research and the development of therapies.