Research CommentariesNeuroscience

Opening the Window to Odor Space

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Science  09 Jan 1998:
Vol. 279, Issue 5348, pp. 193
DOI: 10.1126/science.279.5348.193

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When a huge family of protein receptors was found in the nose in the early 1990s, a rapid understanding of how we detect odors was expected. But progress has been slow, partly because we have no way of assigning compounds that we smell to their correct receptor. In his commentary, Reed describes how this situation has changed with a report in this week's issue. Zhao et al identify the receptor for the odorant n -octanal by causing cells in the living animal to express certain receptors by genetic engineering.