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Identification of a Testicular Odorant Receptor Mediating Human Sperm Chemotaxis

Science  28 Mar 2003:
Vol. 299, Issue 5615, pp. 2054-2058
DOI: 10.1126/science.1080376

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Abstract

Although it has been known for some time that olfactory receptors (ORs) reside in spermatozoa, the function of these ORs is unknown. Here, we identified, cloned, and functionally expressed a previously undescribed human testicular OR, hOR17-4. With the use of ratiofluorometric imaging, Ca2+ signals were induced by a small subset of applied chemical stimuli, establishing the molecular receptive fields for the recombinantly expressed receptor in human embryonic kidney (HEK) 293 cells and the native receptor in human spermatozoa. Bourgeonal was a powerful agonist for both recombinant and native receptor types, as well as a strong chemoattractant in subsequent behavioral bioassays. In contrast, undecanal was a potent OR antagonist to bourgeonal and related compounds. Taken together, these results indicate that hOR17-4 functions in human sperm chemotaxis and may be a critical component of the fertilization process.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: hanns.hatt{at}ruhr-uni-bochum.de

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