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Cell. 1995 Oct 20;83(2):195-206.

A novel family of genes encoding putative pheromone receptors in mammals.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, New York 10032, USA.


In mammals, olfactory sensory perception is mediated by two anatomically and functionally distinct sensory organs: the main olfactory epithelium (MOE) and the vomeronasal organ (VNO). Pheromones activate the VNO and elicit a characteristic array of innate reproductive and social behaviors, along with dramatic neuroendocrine responses. Differential screening of cDNA libraries constructed from single sensory neurons from the rat VNO has led to the isolation of a family of about 30 putative receptor genes. Sequence analysis indicates that these genes comprise a novel family of seven transmembrane domain proteins unrelated to the receptors expressed in the MOE. Moreover, the expression of each member of the gene family is restricted to a small subpopulation of VNO neurons. These genes are likely to encode mammalian pheromone receptors.

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