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Curr Biol. 2004 Jan 20;14(2):R81-9.

Something in the air? New insights into mammalian pheromones.

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  • 1Sub-Department of Animal Behaviour, University of Cambridge, High St., Madingley, Cambridge CB3 8AA, UK.

Abstract

Olfaction is the dominant sensory modality for most animals and chemosensory communication is particularly well developed in many mammals. Our understanding of this form of communication has grown rapidly over the last ten years since the identification of the first olfactory receptor genes. The subsequent cloning of genes for rodent vomeronasal receptors, which are important in pheromone detection, has revealed an unexpected diversity of around 250 receptors belonging to two structurally different classes. This review will focus on the chemical nature of mammalian pheromones and the complementary roles of the main olfactory system and vomeronasal system in mediating pheromonal responses. Recent studies using genetically modified mice and electrophysiological recordings have highlighted the complexities of chemosensory communication via the vomeronasal system and the role of this system in handling information about sex and genetic identity. Although the vomeronasal organ is often regarded as only a pheromone detector, evidence is emerging that suggests it might respond to a much broader variety of chemosignals.

PMID:
14738757
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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