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:3/30/2017)... , March 30, 2017  On April 6-7, 2017, ... the Genome hackathon at Microsoft,s headquarters in ... competition will focus on developing health and wellness apps ... Hack the Genome is the first hackathon ... The world,s largest companies in the genomics, tech and ...
(Date:3/28/2017)... 2017 The report "Video Surveillance ... Servers, Storage Devices), Software (Video Analytics, VMS), and Service ... Forecast to 2022", published by MarketsandMarkets, the market was ... projected to reach USD 75.64 Billion by 2022, at ... base year considered for the study is 2016 and ...
(Date:3/23/2017)... report "Gesture Recognition and Touchless Sensing Market by Technology (Touch-based and Touchless), Product ... by MarketsandMarkets, the market is expected to be worth USD 18.98 billion by ... Continue Reading ... ...      (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20160303/792302) ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/10/2017)... , Oct. 10, 2017 International research firm Parks Associates ... will speak at the TMA 2017 Annual Meeting , October 11 ... in the residential home security market and how smart safety and security ... Parks Associates: ... "The residential security ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... October 10, 2017 , ... The Pittcon ... awards honoring scientists who have made outstanding contributions to analytical chemistry ... Pittcon 2018, the world’s leading conference and exposition for laboratory science, which will ...
(Date:10/9/2017)... , ... October 09, 2017 , ... At its national ... Christopher Stubbs, a professor in Harvard University’s Departments of Physics and Astronomy, has been ... a member of the winning team for the 2015 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental physics ...
(Date:10/7/2017)... ... October 06, 2017 , ... ... providing advanced instruments and applications consulting for microscopy and surface analysis, Nanoscience ... application consulting, Nanoscience Analytical offers a broad range of contract analysis services ...
Breaking Biology Technology: