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Taste- and smell-detecting proteins pave way to disease treatmen...
  • 글쓴이 : Communications Team
  • 조회 : 195
  • 일 자 : 2019-01-10

Taste- and smell-detecting proteins pave way to disease treatment

Team led by Prof. Sung-Joon Lee publishes paper on ectopic olfactory/taste receptors

Results published in leading journal Nature Reviews Drug Discovery

Sung-Joon Lee, a professor of the Department of Biotechnology under the College of Life Sciences and Biotechnology, recently published a review paper on ectopic olfactory/taste receptors in Nature Reviews Drug Discovery.


* Title of paper: Therapeutic potential of ectopic olfactory and taste receptors

* Primary first author and corresponding author: Sung-Joon Lee

* Co-first authors: Dr. Hanns Hatt of Ruhr-University Bochum, Dr. Inge Depoortere of University of Leuven

* IF=50.17, 5Y IF=54.59


Odorants and tastants found in nature activate olfactory receptors and taste receptors in the nasal olfactory and oral gustatory systems. Information on smell and taste are then transmitted as sensory signals to the brain.


Among the olfactory receptors and taste receptors, sweet, bitter and umami taste receptors are classified as G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), which are ectopically expressed in non-olfactory and non-gustatory tissues. The detection of odorants and tastants outside of the nose and mouth may contribute to the electrical signals transmitted to the brain and not only perform distinct biological functions but also influence various processes leading to disease. With about 30% of approved drugs on the market targeting GPCR proteins, ectopic olfactory/taste receptors show high promise as potential therapeutic targets.



Ectopic olfactory/taste receptors are involved in various processes, such as the regulation of sperm chemotaxis, muscle regeneration, skin cell proliferation, bronchoconstriction and bronchodilation, inflammation, appetite regulation, and energy metabolism/obesity control. Olfactory receptors are also used as biomarkers in cancer diagnostics based on liquid biopsy, and research on the functions of ectopic olfactory/taste receptors is expected to have diverse therapeutic applications, such as for hair loss, asthma, obesity, and cancer.


According to Professor Lee, the paper represents a comprehensive review and will prove helpful to researchers in related fields.


The study was supported by a grant from the National Research Foundation of Korea. In addition to Professor Lee, the first authors to the paper are Dr. Hanns Hatt of Germany’s Ruhr-University Bochum and Dr. Inge Depoortere of Belgium’s University of Leuven.


[Description of figures] Key functions of ectopic olfactory receptors

a. OR1D2 mediates sperm chemotaxis. b. The activation of OLFR78 in the renal afferent artery regulates blood pressure by inducing renin secretion. c. Activation of OR2AT4 in skin tissue aids wound healing. d. Activation of OR1A1 in liver cells adjusts lipid synthesis. d,e. Activation of OLFR544 in liver and adipose tissue adjusts lipid oxidation and lipid hydrolysis, respectively.

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