Explorations in Olfactory Receptor Structure and Function
Olfaction is one of the most primitive of our senses, and the olfactory receptors that mediate this very important chemical sense comprise the largest family of genes in the mammalian genome. It is therefore surprising that we understand so little of how olfactory receptors work. In particular we have a poor idea of what odorous chemicals are detected by most of the olfactory receptors in the genome, and for those receptors which we have paired with ligands, we know relatively little about how the structure of these ligands can either activate or inhibit the activation of these receptors. Furthermore the large repertoire of olfactory receptors, which belong to the G protein coupled receptor (GPCR) superfamily, can serve as a model to contribute to our broader understanding of GPCR- ligand binding, especially since GPCRs are important pharmaceutical targets.
In this dissertation, I explore the relationship between olfactory receptors and their ligands, both by manipulating the ligands presented to the olfactory receptors, as well as by altering the structure of the receptor itself by mutagenesis. Here we report the probable requirement of a hydrated germinal-diol form of octanal for activation of the rodent OR-I7 receptor by ligand manipulation, and the successful in vitro modeling and manipulation of ketamine binding to MOR136-1. We also report the results of a large-scale screen of 1190 human and mouse olfactory receptors for receptors activated by volatile general anesthetics, which has lead to the identification of 32 olfactory receptor-volatile general anesthetic pairs.
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