Abstract | Expanding the olfactory code by in silico decoding of odor-receptor chemical space

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Expanding the olfactory code by in silico decoding of odor-receptor chemical space

Abstract

Affiliation details

University of California, Riverside, United States

Coding of information in the peripheral olfactory system depends on two fundamental factors: interaction of individual odors with subsets of the odorant receptor repertoire and mode of signaling that an individual receptor-odor interaction elicits, activation or inhibition. We develop a cheminformatics pipeline that predicts receptor–odorant interactions from a large collection of chemical structures (>240,000) for receptors that have been tested to a smaller panel of odorants (∼100). Using a computational approach, we first identify shared structural features from known ligands of individual receptors. We then use these features to screen in silico new candidate ligands from >240,000 potential volatiles for several Odorant receptors (Ors) in the Drosophila antenna. Functional experiments from 9 Ors support a high success rate (∼71%) for the screen, resulting in identification of numerous new activators and inhibitors. Such computational prediction of receptor–odor interactions has the potential to enable systems level analysis of olfactory receptor repertoires in organisms.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.01120.001