Biogenic amines are important signaling molecules, and the structural basis for their recognition by G Protein-Coupled Receptors (GPCRs) is well understood. Amines are also potent odors, with some activating olfactory trace amine-associated receptors (TAARs). Here, we report that teleost TAARs evolved a new way to recognize amines in a non-classical orientation. Chemical screens de-orphaned eleven zebrafish TAARs, with agonists including serotonin, histamine, tryptamine, 2-phenylethylamine, putrescine, and agmatine. Receptors from different clades contact ligands through aspartates on transmembrane α-helices III (canonical Asp3.32) or V (non-canonical Asp5.42), and diamine receptors contain both aspartates. Non-classical monoamine recognition evolved in two steps: an ancestral TAAR acquired Asp5.42, gaining diamine sensitivity, and subsequently lost Asp3.32. Through this transformation, the fish olfactory system dramatically expanded its capacity to detect amines, ecologically significant aquatic odors. The evolution of a second, alternative solution for amine detection by olfactory receptors highlights the tremendous structural versatility intrinsic to GPCRs.
- Jeremy Nathans, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, United States
© 2015, Li et al.
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