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Sense of Smell: Structural, Functional, Mechanistic Advancements and Challenges in Human Olfactory Research

[ Vol. 17 , Issue. 9 ]

Author(s):

Anju Sharma, Rajnish Kumar, Imlimaong Aier, Rahul Semwal, Pankaj Tyagi and Pritish Varadwaj*   Pages 891 - 911 ( 21 )

Abstract:


Olfaction, the sense of smell detects and discriminate odors as well as social cues which influence our innate responses. The olfactory system in human beings is found to be weak as compared to other animals; however, it seems to be very precise. It can detect and discriminate millions of chemical moieties (odorants) even in minuscule quantities. The process initiates with the binding of odorants to specialized olfactory receptors, encoded by a large family of Olfactory Receptor (OR) genes belonging to the G-protein-coupled receptor superfamily. Stimulation of ORs converts the chemical information encoded in the odorants, into respective neuronal action-potentials which causes depolarization of olfactory sensory neurons. The olfactory bulb relays this signal to different parts of the brain for processing. Odors are encrypted using a combinatorial approach to detect a variety of chemicals and encode their unique identity. The discovery of functional OR genes and proteins provided an important information to decipher the genomic, structural and functional basis of olfaction. ORs constitute 17 gene families, out of which 4 families were reported to contain more than hundred members each. The olfactory machinery is not limited to GPCRs; a number of non- GPCRs is also employed to detect chemosensory stimuli. The article provides detailed information about such olfaction machinery, structures, transduction mechanism, theories of odor perception, and challenges in the olfaction research. It covers the structural, functional and computational studies carried out in the olfaction research in the recent past.

Keywords:

GPCR, olfactory bulb, odor, receptor, signal transduction.

Affiliation:

Department of Applied Science, Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, Amity Institute of Biotechnology, Amity University Lucknow Campus, Uttar Pradesh, Department of Applied Science, Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, Department of Information Technology, Indian Institute of Information Technology Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, Department of Applied Science, Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, Department of Applied Science, Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh

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