A multigene family encoding a diverse array of putative pheromone receptors in mammals

Cell. 1997 Aug 22;90(4):775-84. doi: 10.1016/s0092-8674(00)80537-1.


The vomeronasal organ of mammals is an olfactory sensory structure that detects pheromones. It contains two subsets of sensory neurons that differentially express G alpha(o) and G alpha(i2). By comparing gene expression in single neurons, we identified a novel multigene family that codes for a diverse array of candidate pheromone receptors (VRs) expressed by the G alpha(o)+ subset. Different VRs are expressed by different neurons, but those neurons are interspersed, suggesting a distributed mode of sensory coding. Chromosome mapping experiments suggest an evolutionary connection between genes encoding VRs and receptors for volatile odorants. However, a dramatically different structure for VRs and the existence of variant VR mRNA forms indicate that there are diverse strategies to detect functionally distinct sensory stimuli.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Chemoreceptor Cells*
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • GTP-Binding Protein alpha Subunit, Gi2
  • GTP-Binding Protein alpha Subunits
  • GTP-Binding Protein alpha Subunits, Gi-Go*
  • GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Genetic Linkage
  • Heterotrimeric GTP-Binding Proteins*
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Multigene Family*
  • Neurons, Afferent / chemistry
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / metabolism
  • Vomeronasal Organ / chemistry*
  • Vomeronasal Organ / cytology


  • GTP-Binding Protein alpha Subunits
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • olfactory G protein subunit alpha olf
  • GTP-Binding Proteins
  • GTP-Binding Protein alpha Subunit, Gi2
  • GTP-Binding Protein alpha Subunits, Gi-Go
  • Gnai2 protein, mouse
  • Heterotrimeric GTP-Binding Proteins

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AF011411
  • GENBANK/AF011412
  • GENBANK/AF011413
  • GENBANK/AF011414
  • GENBANK/AF011415
  • GENBANK/AF011416
  • GENBANK/AF011417
  • GENBANK/AF011418
  • GENBANK/AF011419
  • GENBANK/AF011420
  • GENBANK/AF011421
  • GENBANK/AF011422
  • GENBANK/AF011423
  • GENBANK/AF011424
  • GENBANK/AF011425
  • GENBANK/AF011426