Alarm pheromone and kairomone detection via bitter taste receptors in the mouse Grueneberg ganglion

BMC Biol. 2018 Jan 18;16(1):12. doi: 10.1186/s12915-017-0479-y.


Background: The mouse Grueneberg ganglion (GG) is an olfactory subsystem specialized in the detection of volatile heterocyclic compounds signalling danger. The signalling pathways transducing the danger signals are only beginning to be characterized.

Results: Screening chemical libraries for compounds structurally resembling the already-identified GG ligands, we found a new category of chemicals previously identified as bitter tastants that initiated fear-related behaviours in mice depending on their volatility and evoked neuronal responses in mouse GG neurons. Screening for the expression of signalling receptors of these compounds in the mouse GG yielded transcripts of the taste receptors Tas2r115, Tas2r131, Tas2r143 and their associated G protein α-gustducin (Gnat3). We were further able to confirm their expression at the protein level. Challenging these three G protein-coupled receptors in a heterologous system with the known GG ligands, we identified TAS2R143 as a chemical danger receptor transducing both alarm pheromone and predator-derived kairomone signals.

Conclusions: These results demonstrate that similar molecular elements might be used by the GG and by the taste system to detect chemical danger signals present in the environment.

Keywords: Alarm pheromone; Danger detection; Grueneberg ganglion; Olfaction; Predator scents; TAS2Rs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Cell Line
  • Female
  • Ganglia, Autonomic / chemistry
  • Ganglia, Autonomic / metabolism*
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Pheromones / administration & dosage*
  • Smell / drug effects
  • Smell / physiology*
  • Taste / drug effects
  • Taste / physiology*
  • Taste Buds / chemistry
  • Taste Buds / drug effects
  • Taste Buds / metabolism*


  • Pheromones