Odorant receptors, present on nasal sensory neurons, perceive volatile compounds and regulate animal behavior such as reproduction. The nature of the ligands interacting with these receptors is, however, largely unknown.
Keiichi Yoshikawa and colleagues, University of Tokyo, Japan, shed new light on this issue. The researchers demonstrated that, in mice, preputial gland cells generate and secrete into the urine the unsaturated aliphatic alcohol (Z)-5-tetradecen-1-ol (pictured). This compound is regulated by the male hormone testosterone and acts as a natural agonist of the mouse odorant receptor Olfr288, affecting attractiveness to female mice. The urine of males lacking (Z)-5-tetradecen-1-ol, in fact, failed to attract females.
By identifying a novel receptor-ligand interaction in the mouse olfactory system, this study offers new insights into the complex chemistry regulating reproductive behavior.
- An unsaturated aliphatic alcohol as a natural ligand for a mouse odorant receptor,
K. Yoshikawa, H. Nakagawa, N. Mori, H. Watanabe, K. Touhara,
Nature Chem. Biol. 2013.