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Paul Feinstein

Associate Professor
Department :
Membership :
Associate Member
Core Research :
Office :
Room 904 North
Email :
Office Phone :
(212) 650-3169
Lab Web Site :
Education :
  • B.A. (Biochemistry), University of Pennsylvania, 1986
  • Ph.D. (Integrated Program in Cellular, Molecular, and Biophysical Studies), Center for Neurobiology and Behavior, Columbia University, 1995
  • Postdoc/Res. Associate (Developmental Biology and Neurogenetics), The Rockefeller University, 2004
  • Research Assistant Professor (Genetics and Neurodevelopment), The Rockefeller University, 2007
Research Interest :

Using targeted mutagenesis and mouse genetics to study how the brain functions.
The brain interprets the world through five major modalities of sensation.
Information for sight, sound, taste and touch are relayed to the brain through networks of cellular or neuronal connections.

The sense of smell (olfaction); however, uses specialized bipolar neurons, which can simultaneously identify odors with their dendritically located cilia and make direct connections to the brain with their axonal projections. Thus, olfactory neurons directly convert stimuli from the external world into an internal representation within the brain. In a surprising twist, the same protein (the odorant receptor) that is used for identifying odors is also used for guiding the axonal connection to the brain. The olfactory system detects the universe of odors through ~1000 different odorant receptor coding genes. But, each olfactory neuron makes only one type of odorant receptor. The distribution of neuron types is scattered across the interior lining of the nose, but their axonal projections to the brain are sorted out into discrete units that represent each neuronal type.

To examine how the odorant receptor (OR) functions in odor detection and axonal projections, I have used mouse embryonic stem cell technology coupled with genetic manipulation to alter the expressed OR proteins. Studying these modified OR proteins in vivo, I have found that several additional processes within the neuron are affected. The observed one OR gene expressed per olfactory neuron is maintained even if additional OR genes are added to the genome. I am interested in understanding how olfactory neurons control OR gene expression and how the OR protein provides specificity for axonal projections to form discrete units in the brain.

I am also deeply interested in studying how mouse embryonic stem cells are capable of becoming any cell type in the adult mouse.

Selected Publications :
  • L. Capello, D. Roppolo, V.P. Jungo, P. Feinstein and I. Rodriguez. (2009) A common gene exclusion mechanism used by two chemosensory systems. Eur. Journal of Neuroscience 29: 671-678. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-9568.2009.06630x
  • T. Bozza, A. Vassalli, S. Fuss, JJ. Zhang, B. Weiland, R. Pacifico, P. Feinstein and P. Mombaerts. (2009) Mapping of ClassI and ClassII odorant receptors to glomerular domains by two distinct types of olfactory sensory neurons in the mouse. Neuron 61: 1-13
  • A. Walz, P. Feinstein, M. Khan and P. Mombaerts. (2007) Axonal wiring of guanylate cyclase-D-expressing olfactory neurons is dependent on neuropilin 2 and semaphorin 3F. Develelopment 134: 4063-4072
  • A. Rothman, P. Feinstein, J. Hirota, and P. Mombaerts. (2005) The Promoter of the Mouse M71 Odorant Receptor. Mol. Cell. Neurosci. 28: 535– 546 (doi:10.1016/j.mcn.2004.11.006)
  • P. Mombaerts and P. Feinstein. (2005) Axonal Wiring through Odorant Receptors. S. Grillner and A.M. Graybiel ed. Microcircuits. The interface between Neurons and Global Brain Function. Dahlem Workshop Report 93. Cambride, MA: The MIT Press.
  • D.J. Zou, P. Feinstein, A.L.Rivers, G.A. Mathews, A. Kim, C.A. Greer, P. Mombaerts, and S. Firestein (2004) Postnatal refinement of peripheral olfactory projections. Science 304: 1976-1979.
  • J. Li, T. Ishii, P. Feinstein, and P. Mombaerts (2004) Odorant Receptor Gene Choice is Reset by Nuclear Transfer from Mouse Olfactory Sensory Neurons. Nature 428: 393-399
  • P. Feinstein and P. Mombaerts (2004) A Contextual Model for Axonal Sorting into Glomeruli of the Mouse Olfactory System. Cell 117: 817-831
  • P. Feinstein, T. Bozza, I. Rodriguez, A. Vassalli, and P. Mombaerts (2004) Axon Guidance of Mouse Olfactory Sensory Neurons by Odorant Receptors and The Beta2 Adrenergic Receptor. Cell 117: 833-846
  • S.S. Wang, J.W. Lewcock, P. Feinstein, P. Mombaerts, and R.R. Reed (2004) Genetic Disruptions of O/E2 and O/E3 Genes Reveal Involvement in Olfactory Neuron Projection. Development 131: 1377-1388
  • A.Vassalli, A. Rothman, P. Feinstein, M. Zapotocky and P. Mombaerts (2002) Minigenes Impart Odorant Receptor-Specific Axon Guidance in the Olfactory Bulb. Neuron 35: 681-696
  • H.B. Treloar, P. Feinstein, P. Mombaerts anc C.A. Greer (2002) Specificity of Glomerular Targeting by Olfactory Sensory Axons. Journal of Neuroscience 22(7): 2469-77
  • L. Belluscio, C. Lodovichi , P. Feinstein, P. Mombaerts and L. Katz (2002) Odorant Receptors Organize Local Circuitry in the Mouse Olfactory Bulb. Nature 419: 296-300
  • S.M. Potter*, C. Zheng, D.S*. Koos*, P. Feinstein*, S.E. Fraser* and P. Mombaerts* (2001) Structure and Emergence of Specific Olfactory Glomeruli in the Mouse. Journal of Neuroscience 21(24): 9713-23 *All authors contributed equally
  • T. Bozza, P. Feinstein, C. Zheng and P. Mombaerts (2002) Odorant Receptor Expression Defines Functional Units in the Moue Olfactory System. Journal of Neuroscience 22(8): 3033-43
  • C. Zheng, P. Feinstein, T. Bozza, I. Rodriguez and P. Mombaerts (2000) Peripheral olfactory projections are differentially affected in mice deficient in a cyclic nucleotide-gated channel subunit. Neuron 26:81-91.
  • S. Xie, P. Feinstein and P. Mombaerts (2000) Characterization of a Cluster Comprising ~100 Odorant Receptor Genes in Mouse. Mammalian Genome 11:1070-1078
  • J. Strotmann, S. Conzelmannn, A. Beck, P. Feinstein, H. Breer and P. Mombaerts (2000) Local Permutations in Glomerular Array of the Mouse Olfactory Bulb. Journal of Neuroscience 20(18): 6927-6938
  • I. Rodriguez, P. Feinstein and P. Mombaerts (1999) Variable Patterns of Axonal Projections of Sensory Neurons in the Mouse Vomeronasal System. Cell 97:199-208
  • J. Strotmann, R. Hoppe, S. Conzelmann, P. Feinstein, P. Mombaerts and H. Breer. (1999) Small subfamily of olfactory receptor genes: structural features, expression pattern and genomic organization. Gene 236:281-291