Sensory Perception

Sex and Smell

Science's STKE  15 Mar 2005:
Vol. 2005, Issue 275, pp. tw105
DOI: 10.1126/stke.2752005tw105

In the antennae of the insect olfactory system, there exist two distinct chemical perception mechanisms. The so-called "generalist" system recognizes odorants from foods and plants and is made up of the olfactory receptor family, with many different genes. The second perception mechanism, the "specialist" system, detects pheromones from insects of the same species. Nakagawa et al. report that in the silk moth, coexpression of pheromone receptors with a receptor from the generalist insect olfactory receptor subfamily promotes the functional expression of pheromone receptors and confers ligand-stimulated nonselective cation channel activity.

T. Nakagawa, T. Sakurai, T. Nishioka, K. Touhara, Insect sex-pheromone signals mediated by specific combinations of olfactory receptors. Science 307, 1638-1642 (2005). [Abstract] [Full Text]