Navigation Links
Shape changes in aroma-producing molecules determine the fragrances we detect
Date:12/22/2008

NEW YORK, December 22, 2008 - Shakespeare wrote "a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." But would it if the molecules that generate its fragrance were to change their shape?

That's what Dr. Kevin Ryan, Assistant Professor of Chemistry at The City College of New York (CCNY) and collaborators in the laboratory of Dr. Stuart Firestein, Professor of Biology at Columbia University, set out to investigate. Their findings, reported today in the journal "Chemistry & Biology," shed new insight into how our sense of smell works and have potential applications in the design of flavors and fragrances.

When odor-producing molecules, known as odorants, pass through the nose, they trigger intracellular changes in a subset of the approximately 400 different varieties olfactory sensory neurons (OSN) housed in the nose's internal membrane tissue, Professor Ryan explained. The unique reaction pattern produced, known as the olfactory code, is sent as a signal to the brain, which leads to perception of odors.

Professor Ryan and his team wanted to learn how these receptor cells respond when odorants change their shape. They studied the odorant octanal, an eight-carbon aldehyde that occurs in many flowers and citrus fruits. Octanal is a structurally flexible molecule that can adapt to many different shapes by rotating its chemical bonds.

The researchers designed and synthesized eight-carbon aldehydes that resembled octanal, but had their carbon chains locked by adding one additional bond. These molecules were tested on genetically engineered OSNs known to respond to octanal. This work was done in Professor Firestein's laboratory at Columbia.

The aldehyde molecules that could stretch to their greatest length triggered strong activity in the OSNs. However, those molecules whose carbon chains were constrained into a U shape blocked the receptor and left the cell unable to sense octanal.

"Conformationally constrained odorants were more selective in the number of OSNs they activated," Professor Ryan noted. "The results indicate that these odorant molecules might be able to alter fragrance mixture odors in two ways: by muting the activity of flexible odorants present in a mixture and by activating a smaller subset of OSNs than chemically related flexible odorants. This would produce a different olfactory code signature."

Olfactory receptors belong to the G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR) class of proteins, a family of molecules found in cell membranes throughout the body. Professor Ryan pointed out that half of all commercial pharmaceuticals work by interaction with proteins within this family. Thus, the findings could also have applications to GPCR drug design, as well.


'/>"/>

Contact: Ellis Simon
esimon@ccny.cuny.edu
212-650-6460
City College of New York
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Root system architecture arises from coupling cell shape to auxin transport
2. Ancient magma superpiles may have shaped the continents
3. Apple or pear shape is not main culprit to heart woes -- its liver fat
4. Wistar scientists find key to keeping killer T cells in prime shape for fighting infection, cancer
5. Penn scientists discover cells reorganize shape to fit the situation
6. Duke-NIEHS team shows how DNA repairs may reshape the genome
7. Parents shape whether their children learn to eat fruits and vegetables
8. Water is designer fluid that helps proteins change shape, scientists say
9. Smart materials get smarter with ability to better control shape and size
10. Saving face with a baby-face? Shape of CEOs face affects public perception
11. Courtship pattern shaped by emergence of a new gene in fruit flies
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/14/2016)... , April 14, 2016 ... Malware Detection, today announced the appointment of Eyal ... new role. Goldwerger,s leadership appointment comes at ... heels of the deployment of its platform at several ... biometric technology, which discerns unique cognitive and physiological factors, ...
(Date:3/29/2016)... , March 29, 2016 LegacyXChange, ... LegacyXChange "LEGX" and SelectaDNA/CSI Protect are pleased to announce ... used in a variety of writing instruments, ensuring athletes ... originally created collectibles from athletes on LegacyXChange will be ... of the DNA. Bill Bollander , ...
(Date:3/21/2016)... , March 22, 2016 ... recognition with passcodes for superior security   ... a leading provider of secure digital communications services, today ... biometric technology and offer enterprise customers, particularly those in ... facial recognition and voice authentication within a mobile app, ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:4/27/2016)... ... April 27, 2016 , ... ... pleased to announce the appointment of John Tilton as Chief Commercial Officer.  Mr. ... and one of the founding commercial leaders responsible for the commercialization of multiple ...
(Date:4/27/2016)... ... April 27, 2016 , ... A compact PET scanner ... and MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) in existing third-party MRI systems. PET and MRI ... small animal subjects. Simultaneous PET/MRI imaging offers a solution to many challenges that ...
(Date:4/27/2016)... , April 27, 2016 MedDay, a ... today announces the appointment of Catherine Moukheibir as Chairman of ... previous Chairman, Jean Jacques Garaud , who contributed to ... is effective immediately. Catherine started her career in ... and London .  She held C-Suite ...
(Date:4/26/2016)... Redwood City, CA (PRWEB) , ... April 26, ... ... company for healthcare, today announced that Ardy Arianpour has joined the company as ... 14 years of experience bringing innovative genomic technologies to market, was most recently ...
Breaking Biology Technology: