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J Mol Evol. 2006 Apr;62(4):460-72. Epub 2006 Mar 17.

Evolution of the "OR37" subfamily of olfactory receptors: a cross-species comparison.

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  • 1Institute of Physiology, University of Hohenheim, Garbenstrasse 30, 70593, Stuttgart, Germany.


Genes encoding the olfactory receptors of the "OR37" subfamily of the mouse are characterized by special features including a clustered expression pattern, assembly in two distinct gene clusters, and highly conserved putative promoter motifs. Mining the rat and dog databases revealed that these two species possess highly conserved clusters of OR37 genes at two syntenic genomic loci. In a prototherian mammal, the platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus), none of the characteristic OR37 genes were found. Examination of a metatherian mammal, the gray short-tailed opossum (Monodelphis domestica) revealed seven canonical OR37 genes, all phylogenetically related to cluster II genes and also organized similar to cluster II of eutherian species. In addition, their 5' upstream regions comprised sequence motifs related to the putative regulatory sequences of cluster II genes. Typical cluster I OR37 genes were identified only in the eutherian mammals examined, including the evolutionary ancient anteater, wherein OR37 genes related to both clusters were present. Together, these results reveal novel information concerning the phylogenetic origin and important evolutionary steps of the mammalian-specific OR37 olfactory receptor family.

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