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Annu Rev Neurosci. 2000;23:417-39.

Guanylyl cyclases as a family of putative odorant receptors.

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  • 1Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas 75235, USA. angeliag@baylordallas.edu


Mammals can discriminate among a large number (> 10,000) of unique odorants. The most highly supported explanation for this ability is that olfactory neurons express a large number of seven transmembrane receptors that are not spatially organized at the level of the olfactory epithelium, but whose axonal projections form a distinct pattern within the olfactory bulb. The odor-induced signaling pathway in olfactory neurons includes a Gs-like protein (G(olf)) that activates a specific adenylyl cyclase (type III) isoform, resulting in elevations of cyclic AMP and subsequent activation of a cyclic nucleotide-gated channel. The channel also can be regulated by cyclic GMP. Recently, an olfactory neuron-specific guanylyl cyclase was discovered in rodents, and subsequently a large family of sensory neuronal guanylyl cyclases was identified in nematodes. These guanylyl cyclases are concentrated in the plasma membrane of the dendritic cilia and contain extracellular domains that retain many of the primary sequence characteristics of guanylyl cyclases known to be receptors for various peptides. Thus, the guanylyl cyclases appear to represent a second family of odorant/pheromone receptors.

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