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Nature. 2013 May 23;497(7450):486-9. doi: 10.1038/nature12114. Epub 2013 Apr 28.

Non-redundant coding of aversive odours in the main olfactory pathway.

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1
Department of Neurobiology, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 60208, USA.

Abstract

Many species are critically dependent on olfaction for survival. In the main olfactory system of mammals, odours are detected by sensory neurons that express a large repertoire of canonical odorant receptors and a much smaller repertoire of trace amine-associated receptors (TAARs). Odours are encoded in a combinatorial fashion across glomeruli in the main olfactory bulb, with each glomerulus corresponding to a specific receptor. The degree to which individual receptor genes contribute to odour perception is unclear. Here we show that genetic deletion of the olfactory Taar gene family, or even a single Taar gene (Taar4), eliminates the aversion that mice display to low concentrations of volatile amines and to the odour of predator urine. Our findings identify a role for the TAARs in olfaction, namely, in the high-sensitivity detection of innately aversive odours. In addition, our data reveal that aversive amines are represented in a non-redundant fashion, and that individual main olfactory receptor genes can contribute substantially to odour perception.

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PMID:
23624375
PMCID:
PMC3663888
DOI:
10.1038/nature12114
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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