Mammals are able to discriminate a vast number of odorants through their sense of smell. In the nasal cavity there are millions of olfactory sensory neurons, which are responsible for this task. Odorants activate odorant receptors that are present in the cilia of the olfactory sensory neurons. The odorant receptors (ORs) belong to the G protein coupled receptor superfamily (GPCRs) and constitute a large family containing approximately 1000 genes in mice. In this project we aim to analyze aspects of the molecular organization of olfaction. During odorant signal transduction, odorant receptors couple to an olfactory specific Galpha protein, denominated Galphaolf. We have shown that Ric-8B acts as a GEF (GTP exchange factor) on Galphaolf in vitro. We now aim to determine the role played by Ric-8B in vivo in olfaction. To do this, we plan to obtain a tissue (olfactory epithelium) specific knock out for Ric-8B, since we have shown that the Ric-8B gene knock out is embryonic lethal.
News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: