Mammalian Odorant Binding Proteins

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2000 Oct 18;1482(1-2):229-40. doi: 10.1016/s0167-4838(00)00167-9.


Odorant binding proteins (OBPs) pertain to one of the most abundant classes of proteins found in the olfactory apparatus. OBPs are a sub-class of lipocalins, defined by their property of reversibly binding volatile chemicals, that we call 'odorants'. Numerous sequences of OBPs are now available, derived from protein sequencing from nasal mucus material, or from DNA sequences. The structural knowledge of OBPs has been improved too in recent years, with the availability of two X-ray structures. The physiological role of OBPs remains, however, essentially hypothetical, and most probably, not linked to a function of odor transport. The present knowledge on OBP biochemistry, sequence and structure will be examined here in relation to the different functional hypotheses proposed for OBPs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Conserved Sequence
  • Disulfides / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Ligands
  • Models, Molecular
  • Odorants
  • Protein Conformation
  • Receptors, Odorant / chemistry
  • Receptors, Odorant / classification
  • Receptors, Odorant / genetics*


  • Disulfides
  • Ligands
  • Receptors, Odorant
  • odorant-binding protein