Encoding of odors by mammalian olfactory receptors

Journal Article

Identified ligands for > 500 mouse ORs ORs are specifically tuned towards individual odorants and their molecular properties Odor molecular properties are informative of odor responses Predictive modeling and convergent evolution analyses suggest specific residues within a canonical location for odorant binding Olfactory receptors (ORs) constitute the largest multi-gene family in the mammalian genome, with hundreds to thousands of loci in humans and mice respectively 1 . The rapid expansion of this massive family of genes has been generated by numerous duplication and diversification events throughout evolutionary history. This size, similarity, and diversity has made it challenging to define the principles by which ORs encode olfactory stimuli. Here, we performed a broad surveying of OR responses, using an in vivo strategy, against a diverse panel of odorants. We then used the resulting interaction profiles to uncover relationships between OR responses, odorants, odor molecular properties, and OR sequences. Our data and analyses revealed that ORs generally exhibited sparse tuning towards odorants and their molecular properties. Odor molecular property similarity between pairs of odorants was informative of odor response similarity. Finally, ORs sharing response to an odorant possessed amino acids at poorly conserved sites that exhibited both, predictive power towards odorant selectivity and convergent evolution. The localization of these residues occurred primarily at the interface of the upper halves of the transmembrane domains, implying that canonical positions govern odor selectivity across ORs. Altogether, our results provide a basis for translating odorants into receptor neuron responses for the unraveling of mammalian odor coding.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Vihani, A; Nagai, M; Juan, C; de March, C; Hu, X; Pearson, J; Matsunami, H

Published Date

  • December 28, 2021

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1101/2021.12.27.474279