Vomeronasal organ detects odorants in absence of signaling through main olfactory epithelium

Nat Neurosci. 2003 May;6(5):519-25. doi: 10.1038/nn1039.


It is commonly assumed that odorants are detected by the main olfactory epithelium (MOE) and pheromones are sensed through the vomeronasal organ (VNO). The complete loss of MOE-mediated olfaction in type-3 adenylyl cyclase knockout mice (AC3-/-) allowed us to examine chemosensory functions of the VNO in the absence of signaling through the MOE. Here we report that AC3-/- mice are able to detect certain volatile odorants via the VNO. These same odorants elicited electro-olfactogram transients in the VNO and MOE of wild-type mice, but only VNO responses in AC3-/- mice. This indicates that some odorants are detected through an AC3-independent pathway in the VNO.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adenylyl Cyclases / deficiency
  • Adenylyl Cyclases / genetics
  • Animals
  • Isoenzymes / deficiency
  • Isoenzymes / genetics
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Odorants*
  • Olfactory Mucosa / drug effects
  • Olfactory Mucosa / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Smell / drug effects
  • Smell / physiology*
  • Vomeronasal Organ / drug effects
  • Vomeronasal Organ / physiology*


  • Isoenzymes
  • Adenylyl Cyclases
  • adenylate cyclase 3