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Exp Dermatol. 2017 Jan;26(1):58-65. doi: 10.1111/exd.13132.

Two olfactory receptors-OR2A4/7 and OR51B5-differentially affect epidermal proliferation and differentiation.

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Department of Cell Physiology, Ruhr-University Bochum, Bochum, Germany.
Cologne Center for Genomics, University of Köln, Köln, Germany.
Department of Dermatology, Center for Chronic Pruritus, University Hospital Münster, Münster, Germany.
University Hospital Münster, Münster, Germany.
Department of Dermatology, Laboratory for Hair Research and Regenerative Medicine, University Hospital of Münster, Münster, Germany.


Olfactory receptors (ORs), which belong to the G-protein coupled receptor family, are expressed in various human tissues, including skin. Cells in non-olfactory tissues tend to express more than one individual OR gene, but function and interaction of two or more ORs in the same cell type has only been marginally analysed. Here, we revealed OR2A4/7 and OR51B5 as two new ORs in human skin cells and identified cyclohexyl salicylate and isononyl alcohol as agonists of these receptors. In cultured human keratinocytes, both odorants induce strong Ca2+ signals that are mediated by OR2A4/7 and OR51B5, as demonstrated by the receptor knockdown experiments. Activation of corresponding receptors induces a cAMP-dependent pathway. Localization studies and functional characterization of both receptors revealed several differences. OR2A4/7 is expressed in suprabasal keratinocytes and basal melanocytes of the epidermis and influences cytokinesis, cell proliferation, phosphorylation of AKT and Chk-2 and secretion of IL-1. In contrast, OR51B5 is exclusively expressed in suprabasal keratinocytes, supports cell migration and regeneration of keratinocyte monolayers, influences Hsp27, AMPK1 and p38MAPK phosphorylation and interestingly, IL-6 secretion. These findings underline that different ORs perform diverse functions in cutaneous cells, and thus offering an approach for the modulated treatment of skin diseases and wound repair.


HaCaT; ectopic expression; keratinocytes; proliferation; wound healing

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