Molecular receptive range variation among mouse odorant receptors for aliphatic carboxylic acids

J Neurochem. 2009 Apr;109(1):193-202. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-4159.2009.05925.x. Epub 2009 Feb 23.


The ability of mammals to identify and distinguish among many thousands of different odorants suggests a combinatorial use of odorant receptors, with each receptor detecting multiple odorants and each odorant interacting with multiple receptors. Numerous receptors may be devoted to the sampling of particularly important regions of odor space. In this study, we explore the similarities and differences in the molecular receptive ranges of four mouse odorant receptors (MOR23-1, MOR31-4, MOR32-11 and MOR40-4), which have previously been identified as receptors for aliphatic carboxylic acids. Each receptor was expressed in Xenopus oocytes, along with Galpha(olf) and the cystic fibrosis transmembrane regulator to allow electrophysiological assay of receptor responses. We find that even though these receptors are relatively unrelated, there is extensive overlap among their receptive ranges. That is, these receptors sample a similar region of odor space. However, the receptive range of each receptor is unique. Thus, these receptors contribute to the depth of coverage of this small region of odor space. Such a group of receptors with overlapping, but distinct receptive ranges, may participate in making fine distinctions among complex mixtures of closely related odorant compounds.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carboxylic Acids / chemistry*
  • Carboxylic Acids / pharmacology
  • Fatty Acids / chemistry*
  • Fatty Acids / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Mice
  • Odorants
  • Olfactory Perception / drug effects
  • Olfactory Perception / physiology*
  • Receptors, Odorant / metabolism
  • Receptors, Odorant / physiology*
  • Xenopus laevis


  • Carboxylic Acids
  • Fatty Acids
  • Receptors, Odorant