Residue conservation and dimer-interface analysis of olfactory receptor molecular models

Krishnan Harini, Sankar Kannan, Wataru Nemoto, Kazuhiko Fukui, Ramanathan Sowdhamini


Olfactory Receptors (ORs) are members of the Class A rhodopsin like G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) which are the initial players in the signal transduction cascade, leading to the generation of nerve impulses transmitted to the brain and resulting in the detection of odorant molecules. Despite the accumulation of thousands of olfactory receptor sequences, no crystal structures of ORs are known tο date. However, the recent availability of crystallographic models of a few GPCRs allows us to generate homology models of ORs and analyze their amino acid patterns, as there is a huge diversity in OR sequences. In this study, we have generated three-dimensional models of 100 representative ORs from Homo sapiens, Mus musculus, Drosophila melanogaster, Caenorhabditis elegans and Sacharomyces cerevisiae which were selected on the basis of a composite classification scheme and phylogenetic analysis. The crystal structure of bovine rhodopsin was used as a template and it was found that the full-length models have more than 90% of their residues in allowed regions of the Ramachandran plot. The structures were further used for analysis of conserved residues in the transmembrane and extracellular loop regions in order to identify functionally important residues. Several ORs are known to be functional as dimers and hence dimer interfaces were predicted for OR models to analyse their oligomeric functional state.


olfaction; genome-wide survey; three-dimensional modelling; membrane proteins


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