Journal Article

Transcriptomes of Mouse Olfactory Epithelium Reveal Sexual Differences in Odorant Detection

Meng-Shin Shiao, Andrew Ying-Fei Chang, Ben-Yang Liao, Yung-Hao Ching, Mei-Yeh Jade Lu, Stella Maris Chen and Wen-Hsiung Li

in Genome Biology and Evolution

Published on behalf of Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution

Volume 4, issue 5, pages 703-712
Published in print January 2012 |
Published online April 2012 | e-ISSN: 1759-6653 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/gbe/evs039

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To sense numerous odorants and chemicals, animals have evolved a large number of olfactory receptor genes (Olfrs) in their genome. In particular, the house mouse has ∼1,100 genes in the Olfr gene family. This makes the mouse a good model organism to study Olfr genes and olfaction-related genes. To date, whether male and female mice possess the same ability in detecting environmental odorants is still unknown. Using the next generation sequencing technology (paired-end mRNA-seq), we detected 1,088 expressed Olfr genes in both male and female olfactory epithelium. We found that not only Olfr genes but also odorant-binding protein (Obp) genes have evolved rapidly in the mouse lineage. Interestingly, Olfr genes tend to express at a higher level in males than in females, whereas the Obp genes clustered on the X chromosome show the opposite trend. These observations may imply a more efficient odorant-transporting system in females, whereas a more active Olfr gene expressing system in males. In addition, we detected the expression of two genes encoding major urinary proteins, which have been proposed to bind and transport pheromones or act as pheromones in mouse urine. This observation suggests a role of main olfactory system (MOS) in pheromone detection, contrary to the view that only accessory olfactory system (AOS) is involved in pheromone detection. This study suggests the sexual differences in detecting environmental odorants in MOS and demonstrates that mRNA-seq provides a powerful tool for detecting genes with low expression levels and with high sequence similarities.

Keywords: mRNA-seq; olfactory epithelium; olfactory receptor; odorant-binding protein; major urinary protein; sexual differentiation

Journal Article.  5943 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Bioinformatics and Computational Biology ; Evolutionary Biology ; Genetics and Genomics

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