Research ArticleNeuroscience

Odor Coding by a Mammalian Receptor Repertoire

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Science Signaling  03 Mar 2009:
Vol. 2, Issue 60, pp. ra9
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2000016

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To Shape a Smell?

Our ability to detect and discriminate among the numerous odorous compounds to which we are exposed depends on odorant recognition by members of a large family of heterotrimeric guanine nucleotide–binding protein (G protein)–coupled odorant receptors (ORs). However, the specific physicochemical properties that enable a particular odorant to act as a ligand for a particular receptor—and thus the initial stage in determining how that odorant is perceived—remain unclear. Saito et al. used a heterologous expression system to test the responses of a large library of human and mouse ORs with a panel of 93 odorants. Analysis of ligand properties and OR sequences enabled the authors to develop a model for predicting interactions between ORs and their ligands.

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