[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Two different structural classes of chemical signals in mouse urine, i.e., volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and the major urinary proteins (MUPs), interact closely because MUPs sequester VOCs. Although qualitative and/or quantitative differences in each chemical class have been reported, previous studies have examined only one of the classes at a time. No study has analyzed these two sets simultaneously, and consequently binding interactions between volatile ligands and proteins in urines of different strains have not been compared. Here, we compared the release of VOCs in male urines of three different inbred strains (C57BL/6J, BALB/b and AKR) before and after denaturation of urinary proteins, mainly MUPs. Both MUP and VOC profiles were distinctive in the intact urine of each strain. Upon denaturation, each of the VOC profiles changed due to the release of ligands previously bound to MUPs. The results indicate that large amounts of numerous ligands are bound to MUPs and that these ligands represent a variety of different structural classes of VOCs. Furthermore, the degree of release in each ligand was different in each strain, indicating that different ligands are differentially bound to proteins in the urines of different strains. Therefore, these data suggest that binding interactions in ligands and MUPs differ between strains, adding yet another layer of complexity to chemical communication in mice.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mammalian sweet taste is primarily mediated by the type 1 taste receptor Tas1r2/Tas1r3, whereas Tas1r1/Tas1r3 act as the principal umami taste receptor. Bitter taste is mediated by a different group of G protein-coupled receptors, the Tas2rs, numbering 3 to ∼66, depending on the species. We showed previously that the behavioral indifference of cats toward sweet-tasting compounds can be explained by the pseudogenization of the Tas1r2 gene, which encodes the Tas1r2 receptor. To examine the generality of this finding, we sequenced the entire coding region of Tas1r2 from 12 species in the order Carnivora. Seven of these nonfeline species, all of which are exclusive meat eaters, also have independently pseudogenized Tas1r2 caused by ORF-disrupting mutations. Fittingly, the purifying selection pressure is markedly relaxed in these species with a pseudogenized Tas1r2. In behavioral tests, the Asian otter (defective Tas1r2) showed no preference for sweet compounds, but the spectacled bear (intact Tas1r2) did. In addition to the inactivation of Tas1r2, we found that sea lion Tas1r1 and Tas1r3 are also pseudogenized, consistent with their unique feeding behavior, which entails swallowing food whole without chewing. The extensive loss of Tas1r receptor function is not restricted to the sea lion: the bottlenose dolphin, which evolved independently from the sea lion but displays similar feeding behavior, also has all three Tas1rs inactivated, and may also lack functional bitter receptors. These data provide strong support for the view that loss of taste receptor function in mammals is widespread and directly related to feeding specializations.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 03/2012; 109(13):4956-61. · 9.81 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We have designed and implemented a practical nanoelectronic interface to G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs), a large family of membrane proteins whose roles in the detection of molecules outside eukaryotic cells make them important pharmaceutical targets. Specifically, we have coupled olfactory receptor proteins (ORs) with carbon nanotube transistors. The resulting devices transduce signals associated with odorant binding to ORs in the gas phase under ambient conditions and show responses that are in excellent agreement with results from established assays for OR-ligand binding. The work represents significant progress on a path toward a bioelectronic nose that can be directly compared to biological olfactory systems as well as a general method for the study of GPCR function in multiple domains using electronic readout.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mice secrete substantial amounts of protein, particularly proteins called the major urinary proteins (MUPs), in urine. One function of MUPs is to sequester volatile pheromone ligands, thereby delaying their release and providing a stable long-lasting signal. Previously, only MUPs isolated from male mice have been used to identify ligands. Here, we tested the hypothesis that MUPs derived from females may also sequester volatile organic compounds. We identified butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), a synthetic antioxidant present in the laboratory rodent diet, as a major ligand bound to urinary proteins derived from C57BL/6J female urine. BHT was also bound to the male-derived proteins, but the binding was less prominent than that in female urine, even though males express approximately 4 times more proteins than females. We confirmed that the majority of BHT in female urine was associated with the high molecular weight fraction (>10 kDa) and the majority of the proteins that sequestered BHT were MUPs as determined by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. The sequestration of BHT by MUPs was further confirmed by employing the recombinant MUP8 whose natural analogue has been reported in both sexes. Therefore, our data indicate that MUPs expressed in both sexes can bind, transport, and excrete xenobiotics into urine and raise the possibility that in addition to the known role in chemical communication, MUPs function as a defense mechanism against exogenous toxins.
Chemical Senses 03/2011; 36(5):443-52. · 3.22 Impact Factor