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A second class of chemosensory receptors in the olfactory epithelium

Nature volume 442, pages 645650 (10 August 2006) | Download Citation

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Abstract

The mammalian olfactory system detects chemicals sensed as odours as well as social cues that stimulate innate responses. Odorants are detected in the nasal olfactory epithelium by the odorant receptor family, whose 1,000 members allow the discrimination of a myriad of odorants. Here we report the discovery of a second family of receptors in the mouse olfactory epithelium. Genes encoding these receptors, called ‘trace amine-associated receptors’ (TAARs), are present in human, mouse and fish. Like odorant receptors, individual mouse TAARs are expressed in unique subsets of neurons dispersed in the epithelium. Notably, at least three mouse TAARs recognize volatile amines found in urine: one detects a compound linked to stress, whereas the other two detect compounds enriched in male versus female urine—one of which is reportedly a pheromone. The evolutionary conservation of the TAAR family suggests a chemosensory function distinct from odorant receptors. Ligands identified for TAARs thus far suggest a function associated with the detection of social cues.

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Acknowledgements

We thank S. Serizawa and Hitoshi Sakano for generously providing MOR28 transgenic mice. We also thank K. Wilson and R. Childs for technical assistance, and members of the Buck laboratory for helpful comments. This project was supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and by grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIDCD).

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Affiliations

  1. Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Basic Sciences Division, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, 1100 Fairview Avenue North, Seattle, Washington 98109, USA

    • Stephen D. Liberles
    •  & Linda B. Buck

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Reprints and permissions information is available at npg.nature.com/reprintsandpermissions. The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Linda B. Buck.

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    Supplementary Notes

    Supplementary Figure 1 shows OE tissue stained with X-gal. Supplementary Data shows a brief summary of ligands identified for TAARs, along with EC50s where determined. Supplementary Methods shows a list of chemicals tested for their ability to activate TAARs.

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https://doi.org/10.1038/nature05066

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