The molecular basis of signal transduction in olfactory sensory neurons.

R. R. Reed, H. A. Bakalyar, A. M. Cunningham, N. S. Levy

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Contributions from a wide spectrum of experimental systems have resulted in a dramatic increase in our understanding of this old and most enigmatic of the sensory systems. Many of the components of the odorant-induced transduction cascade have now been cloned, and the biochemistry, pharmacology, and regulatory mechanisms are being addressed in a logical fashion. One of the first priorities is to establish that the large family of putative receptor proteins described by Buck and Axel (1991) do, in fact, bind odorants. The ability to express members of this receptor family at high levels in the mammalian expression system is a first step in this direction. Determining specific ligand-receptor relationships is an extremely challenging task given the diversity of odorants able to be perceived and the potentially large size of the family of receptors. The role of other proteins in odorant presentation and processing, such as odorant binding protein produced in the lateral nasal gland (Pevsner et al., 1988), can be explored. A fascinating issue to be resolved is that of the distribution of receptor molecules within the population of olfactory sensory neurons. Does one cell express only one receptor, a small repertoire of receptors, or indeed the entire family? These questions can now be answered using a combined approach with in situ hybridization, immunocytochemistry, and single cell PCR techniques. One model of receptor distribution would provide for discrimination of a particular odorant by higher order analysis of the pattern of receptor neuron firing within the neuroepithelium.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)53-60
Number of pages8
JournalSociety of General Physiologists series
StatePublished - 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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