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Genomics. 2003 May;81(5):443-56.

Motif-based construction of a functional map for mammalian olfactory receptors.

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Computational Biology Center, T. J. Watson IBM Research, P.O. Box 218, Yorktown Heights, NY 10598, USA.


We applied an automatic and unsupervised system to a nearly complete database of mammalian odor receptor genes. The generated motifs and gene classification were subjected to extensive and systematic downstream analysis to obtain biological insights. Two major results from this analysis were: (1) a map of sequence motifs that may correlate with function and (2) the corresponding receptor classes in which members of each class are likely to share specific functions. We have discovered motifs that have been implicated in structural integrity and posttranslational modification, as well as motifs very likely to be directly involved in ligand binding. We further propose a combinatorial molecular hypothesis, based on unique combinations of the observed motifs, that provides a foundation for understanding the generation of a large number of ligand binding sites.

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