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Journal Article

Elimination of a ligand gating site generates a supersensitive olfactory receptor


Hussain,  Ashiq
Max Planck Research Group: Chemosensory coding / Grunwald-Kadow, MPI of Neurobiology, Max Planck Society;

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Sharma, K., Ahuja, G., Hussain, A., Balfanz, S., Baumann, A., & Korsching, S. I. (2016). Elimination of a ligand gating site generates a supersensitive olfactory receptor. Scientific Reports, 6: 28359. doi:10.1038/srep28359.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002B-081D-C
Olfaction poses one of the most complex ligand-receptor matching problems in biology due to the unparalleled multitude of odor molecules facing a large number of cognate olfactory receptors. We have recently deorphanized an olfactory receptor, TAAR13c, as a specific receptor for the death-associated odor cadaverine. Here we have modeled the cadaverine/TAAR13c interaction, exchanged predicted binding residues by site-directed mutagenesis, and measured the activity of the mutant receptors. Unexpectedly we observed a binding site for cadaverine at the external surface of the receptor, in addition to an internal binding site, whose mutation resulted in complete loss of activity. In stark contrast, elimination of the external binding site generated supersensitive receptors. Modeling suggests this site to act as a gate, limiting access of the ligand to the internal binding site and thereby downregulating the affinity of the native receptor. This constitutes a novel mechanism to fine-tune physiological sensitivity to socially relevant odors.