Researchers identify receptors activated by odors

odor
Credit: Petr Kratochvil/public domain

A group of physiologists led by University of Kentucky's Tim McClintock have identified the receptors activated by two odors using a new method that tracks responses to smells in live mice.

Their research was published in the latest edition of The Journal of Neuroscience.

Using a to mark nerve cells activated by odors, McClintock and his colleagues identified receptors that allow mouse nerve cells to respond to two odors: eugenol, which is a component of several spices, most notably cloves, and muscone, known as musk.

"This new method could help us understand how these receptors allow mice, and eventually humans, to detect and discriminate odors, similar to the way in which the three receptors in the retinas of our eyes allow us to discriminate colors," McClintock said. "But unlike vision and hearing, the details of how the receptors discriminate odors, much like color in vision or pitch in sound, are unknown."

"Before we have a medical application in mind, we must first create a roadmap for these receptors."

Scientists have been pursuing this "holy grail" of the sense of smell since Richard Axel and Linda Buck discovered these and their role in the organization of the olfactory system, winning them the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2004.

The challenge has been scientists' ability to identify which receptors are activated by certain smells, particularly since humans have about 400 such receptors (mice have an astounding 1,100 receptors).

By using this new invention, called the Kentucky In Vivo Odorant-Ligand Receptor Assay, or in short, 'the Kentucky Assay,' scientists are now able to determine which receptors respond to certain odors in awake, freely behaving animals.

There are many practical applications for this knowledge, according to McClintock.

"Knowing which respond to a chemical would help us devise better flavors and fragrances," he said. "But perhaps more tantalizing is the idea that we could potentially design for offensive odors.


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Journal information: Journal of Neuroscience

Citation: Researchers identify receptors activated by odors (2014, November 26) retrieved 22 September 2019 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2014-11-receptors-odors.html
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Nov 27, 2014
The researchers were checking the response to smells by live mice, Well a couple of times in my life I reacted to the smell of dead mice in my garage. Not pretty.

JVK
Nov 29, 2014
The mouse to human model links conserved molecular mechanisms. Experience-dependent nutrient-dependent de novo creation of olfactory receptor genes links food odors from ecological variation in the epigenetic landscape to the physical landscape of DNA in the organized genomes of invertebrates and vertebrates via RNA-directed DNA methylation and RNA-mediated events that link amino acid substitutions to cell type differentiation.

If the conserved molecular mechanisms that link epigenetic effects to ecological adaptations via the laws of physics and chemistry of protein folding were not replaced by ridiculous theories about mutations that somehow lead to the evolution of biodiversity, Vosshall's group would not have needed to prove mutations are deleterious for comparison to amino acid substitutions that are beneficial.
http://www.nature...964.html
http://www.ncbi.n...3696029/

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