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The location of olfactory receptors within olfactory epithelium is independent of odorant volatility and solubility

Tatjana Abaffy1* and Anthony R DeFazio2

Author affiliations

1 Department of Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology, Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami, 1600 NW 10thAve, Miami, 33136, Fl, USA

2 Department of Neurology, Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami,1420 NW 9thAve, Miami, 33136, Fl, USA

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Citation and License

BMC Research Notes 2011, 4:137  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-4-137

Published: 6 May 2011



Our objective was to study the pattern of olfactory receptor expression within the dorsal and ventral regions of the mouse olfactory epithelium. We hypothesized that olfactory receptors were distributed based on the chemical properties of their ligands: e.g. receptors for polar, hydrophilic and weakly volatile odorants would be present in the dorsal region of olfactory epithelium; while receptors for non-polar, more volatile odorants would be distributed to the ventral region. To test our hypothesis, we used micro-transplantation of cilia-enriched plasma membranes derived from dorsal or ventral regions of the olfactory epithelium into Xenopus oocytes for electrophysiological characterization against a panel of 100 odorants.


Odorants detected by ORs from the dorsal and ventral regions showed overlap in volatility and water solubility. We did not find evidence for a correlation between the solubility and volatility of odorants and the functional expression of olfactory receptors in the dorsal or ventral region of the olfactory epithelia.


No simple clustering or relationship between chemical properties of odorants could be associated with the different regions of the olfactory epithelium. These results suggest that the location of ORs within the epithelium is not organized based on the physico-chemical properties of their ligands.