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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Identification of non-functional human VNO receptor genes provides evidence for vestigiality of the human VNO.

In mammals, the vomeronasal organ (VNO) contains chemosensory receptor cells that bind to pheromones and induce a variety of social and reproductive behaviors. It has been traditionally assumed that the human VNO (Jacobson's organ) is a vestigial structure, although recent studies have shown minor evidence for a structurally intact and possibly functional VNO. The presence and function of the human VNO remains controversial, however, as pheromones and VNO receptors have not been well characterized. In this study we screened a human Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC) library with multiple primer sets designed from human cDNA sequences homologous to mouse VNO receptor genes. Utilizing these BAC sequences in addition to mouse VNO receptor sequences, we screened the High Throughput Genome Sequence (HTGS) database to find additional human putative VNO receptor genes. We report the identification of 56 BACs carrying 34 distinct putative VNO receptor gene sequences, all of which appear to be pseudogenes. Sequence analysis indicates substantial homology to mouse V1R and V2R VNO receptor families. Furthermore, chromosomal localization via FISH analysis and RH mapping reveal that the majority of the BACs are localized to telomeric and centromeric chromosomal localizations and may have arisen through duplication events. These data yield insight into the present state of pheromonal olfaction in humans and into the evolutionary history of human VNO receptors.[1]


  1. Identification of non-functional human VNO receptor genes provides evidence for vestigiality of the human VNO. Kouros-Mehr, H., Pintchovski, S., Melnyk, J., Chen, Y.J., Friedman, C., Trask, B., Shizuya, H. Chem. Senses (2001) [Pubmed]
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