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19 February 2007 | HHMI BULLETIN a male and female mouse—nor did they show stereotypical aggression against other males. The experiment “told us the VNO function is not required for mating behavior,” says Dulac. “What people were saying was the detector of the ‘love potion’—the VNO —was not true. So there is something else, in the olfactory system, that is detecting cues and getting animals to mate.” In another intriguing finding, Buck and postdoctoral fellow Stephen Liberles reported in the August 10, 2006, issue of Nature that they had identified a second family of chemosensory receptors in the olfactory epithelium of the mouse that is unrelated to the odorant receptor family and that may detect pheromones. These recep- tors, called “trace amine-associated receptors,” or TAAR s, were previously proposed to function in the brain as recep- tors for chemical messengers called trace amines. However, the researchers could not detect any of the 15 mouse TAAR s in the brain, whereas they found that 14 of the 15 are expressed by olfactory neurons in the nose. Each TAAR gene is expressed by a unique set of neurons, just like each odorant receptor gene. Zebrafish have 57 of these receptors— many or all found in the olfactory epithelium—and humans, interestingly, have six TAAR s. By testing TAAR s with more than 200 compounds, Liberles and Buck found that several mouse TAAR s recognize stress or gender-linked signals in mouse urine, and one TAAR recognizes a male pheromone that stimulates puberty in female mice. “The evolutionary conserva-
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