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Semin Cell Dev Biol. 1997 Apr;8(2):197-205.

Molecular biology of pheromone perception in mammals.

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Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Harvard University, 16 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.


In mammals, olfactory sensory perception is mediated by two anatomically and functionally distinct sensory organs: the main olfactory epithelium (MOE) and the vomeronasal organ (VNO). Pheromones activate the VNO and elicit a characteristic array of innate reproductive and social behaviors, along with dramatic neuroendocrine responses. Recent approaches have provided new insights into the molecular biology of sensory transduction in the vomeronasal organ. Differential screening of cDNA libraries constructed from single sensory neurons from the rat VNO has led to the isolation of a family of genes which are likely to encode mammalian pheromone receptors. The isolation of these receptors from the vomeronasal organ might permit the analysis of the molecular events which translate the bindings of pheromones into innate stereotypic behaviors and help to elucidate the logic of pheromone perception in mammals.


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