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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1998 Nov 30;855:182-93.

Genome dynamics, evolution, and protein modeling in the olfactory receptor gene superfamily.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Genetics, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel.


The human olfactory subgenome represents several hundred olfactory receptor (OR) genes in a dozen or more clusters on several chromosomes. One OR gene cluster on human chromosome 17 has been characterized by us in detail. Based on a large-scale DNA sequence analysis, we have identified events of gene duplication and fusion as well as the generation of pseudogenes. The latter instances of 'gene death' could underlie the widespread phenomenon of human specific anosmias. Sixteen OR coding regions were found on this cluster, and six of them are pseudogenes. One of these pseudogenes, OR17-23, was found to be an intact open reading frame in an old world monkey. This may be a reflection of an OR repertoire diminution in man. A homology model of the OR protein was constructed by utilizing the rich information available on approximately 200 OR sequences. The putative odorant complementarity determining regions (CDR) was found to consist of 20 hypervariable residues facing an interior caving defined by transmembrane helices 3, 4 and 5. Such a model could be useful in analyzing additional OR gene sequences in the human genome in terms of odorant binding.

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