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Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2009 Jun;19(3):284-92. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2009.07.015. Epub 2009 Aug 5.

Controversy and consensus: noncanonical signaling mechanisms in the insect olfactory system.

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Laboratory of Neurogenetics and Behavior, The Rockefeller University, New York, NY 10065, USA.


There is broad consensus that olfactory signaling in vertebrates and the nematode C. elegans uses canonical G-protein-coupled receptor transduction pathways. In contrast, mechanisms of insect olfactory signal transduction remain deeply controversial. Genetic disruption of G proteins and chemosensory ion channels in mice and worms leads to profound impairment in olfaction, while similar mutations in the fly show more subtle phenotypes. The literature contains contradictory claims that insect olfaction uses cAMP, cGMP, or IP3 as second messengers; that insect odorant receptors couple to G(alpha)s or G(alpha)q pathways; and that insect odorant receptors are G-protein-coupled receptors or odor-gated ion channels. Here we consider all the evidence and offer a consensus model for a noncanonical mechanism of olfactory signal transduction in insects.

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