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Cell Mol Life Sci. 2012 Dec;69(24):4205-13. doi: 10.1007/s00018-012-1116-0. Epub 2012 Aug 29.

How broadly tuned olfactory receptors equally recognize their agonists. Human OR1G1 as a test case.

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Institut de Chimie de Nice, UMR CNRS, Université de Nice Sophia Antipolis 7272, 06108 Nice Cedex 2, France.


The molecular features that dominate the binding mode of agonists by a broadly tuned olfactory receptor are analyzed through a joint approach combining cell biology, calcium imaging, and molecular modeling. The odorant/receptor affinities, estimated through statistics accrued during molecular dynamics simulations, are in accordance with the experimental ranking. Although in many systems receptors recognize their target through a network of oriented interactions, such as H-bonding, the binding by broadly tuned olfactory receptors is dominated by non-polar terms. We show how such a feature allows chemicals belonging to different chemical families to similarly activate the receptors through compensations of interactions within the binding site.

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