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Cell Mol Life Sci. 2006 Jul;63(14):1579-85.

On the ORigin of smell: odorant receptors in insects.

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  • 1Laboratory of Neurogenetics and Behavior, The Rockefeller University, 1230 York Avenue, Box 63, New York, New York, 10021, USA.


Olfaction, the sense of smell, depends on large, divergent families of odorant receptors that detect odour stimuli in the nose and transform them into patterns of neuronal activity that are recognised in the brain. The olfactory circuits in mammals and insects display striking similarities in their sensory physiology and neuroanatomy, which has suggested that odours are perceived by a conserved mechanism. Here I review recent revelations of significant structural and functional differences between the Drosophila and mammalian odorant receptor proteins and discuss the implications for our understanding of the evolutionary and molecular biology of the insect odorant receptors.

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