An olfactory subsystem that mediates high-sensitivity detection of volatile amines

Cell Rep. 2012 Jul 26;2(1):76-88. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2012.06.006. Epub 2012 Jun 28.


Olfactory stimuli are detected by over 1,000 odorant receptors in mice, with each receptor being mapped to specific glomeruli in the olfactory bulb. The trace amine-associated receptors (TAARs) are a small family of evolutionarily conserved olfactory receptors whose contribution to olfaction remains enigmatic. Here, we show that a majority of the TAARs are mapped to a discrete subset of glomeruli in the dorsal olfactory bulb of the mouse. This TAAR projection is distinct from the previously described class I and class II domains, and is formed by a sensory neuron population that is restricted to express TAAR genes prior to choice. We also show that the dorsal TAAR glomeruli are selectively activated by amines at low concentrations. Our data uncover a hard-wired, parallel input stream in the main olfactory pathway that is specialized for the detection of volatile amines.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amines / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Female
  • Gene Targeting
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Models, Biological
  • Multigene Family / physiology
  • Olfactory Pathways / metabolism
  • Olfactory Pathways / physiology*
  • Olfactory Perception / genetics
  • Olfactory Perception / physiology*
  • Olfactory Receptor Neurons / metabolism
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / genetics
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / metabolism
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / physiology
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / genetics
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / physiology
  • Substrate Specificity
  • Volatile Organic Compounds / metabolism*
  • Volatilization


  • Amines
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Volatile Organic Compounds