Cellular rearrangements between olfactory cells and supporting cells, driven by the different expression and distribution of nectins and cadherins, are required for mosaic cellular patterning in the olfactory epithelium.
In the olfactory epithelium (OE), olfactory cells (OCs) and supporting cells (SCs), which express different cadherins, are arranged in a characteristic mosaic pattern in which OCs are enclosed by SCs. However, the mechanism underlying this cellular patterning is unclear. Here, we show that the cellular pattern of the OE is established by cellular rearrangements during development. In the OE, OCs express nectin-2 and N-cadherin, and SCs express nectin-2, nectin-3, E-cadherin, and N-cadherin. Heterophilic trans-interaction between nectin-2 on OCs and nectin-3 on SCs preferentially recruits cadherin via α-catenin to heterotypic junctions, and the differential distributions of cadherins between junctions promote cellular intercalations, resulting in the formation of the mosaic pattern. These observations are confirmed by model cell systems, and various cellular patterns are generated by the combinatorial expression of nectins and cadherins. Collectively, the synergistic action of nectins and cadherins generates mosaic pattern, which cannot be achieved by a single mechanism.