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Mol Neurobiol. 2007 Apr;35(2):175-81.

Searching for the ligands of odorant receptors.

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Departamento de Bioquímica, Instituto de Química, Universidade de São Paulo, Av. Prof. Lineu Prestes, 748, São Paulo, São Paulo, CEP 05508-000, Brazil.


Through the sense of smell mammals can detect and discriminate between a large variety of odorants present in the surrounding environment. Odorants bind to a large repertoire of odorant receptors located in the cilia of olfactory sensory neurons of the nose. Each olfactory neuron expresses one single type of odorant receptor, and neurons expressing the same type of receptor project their axons to one or a few glomeruli in the olfactory bulb, creating a map of odorant receptor inputs. The information is then passed on to other regions of the brain, leading to odorant perception. To understand how the olfactory system discriminates between odorants, it is necessary to determine the odorant specificities of individual odorant receptors. These studies are complicated by the extremely large size of the odorant receptor family and by the poor functional expression of these receptors in heterologous cells. This article provides an overview of the methods that are currently being used to investigate odorant receptor-ligand interactions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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