Truncation releases olfactory receptors from the endoplasmic reticulum of heterologous cells

Alexander A. Gimelbrant, Thomas D. Stoss, Teresa M. Landers, Timothy S. McClintock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


Olfactory receptors are difficult to express functionally in heterologous cells. We found that olfactory receptors traffic poorly to the plasma membrane even in cells with neuronal phenotypes, including cell lines derived from the olfactory epithelium. Other than mature olfactory receptor neurons, few cells appear able to traffic olfactory receptors to the plasma membrane. In human embryonic kidney 293 cells and Xenopus fibroblasts, olfactory receptor immunoreactivity overlapped with a marker for the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) but not with markers for the Golgi apparatus or endosomes. Except for the ER, olfactory receptors were therefore absent from organelles normally involved in the plasma membrane trafficking of receptors. Olfactory receptors truncated prior to transmembrane domain VI were expressed in the plasma membrane, however. Co-expression of the missing C-terminal fragment with these truncated receptors prevented their expression in the plasma membrane. Intramolecular interactions between N- and C-terminal domains joined by the third cytoplasmic loop appear to be responsible for retention of olfactory receptors in the ER of heterologous cells. Our results are consistent with misfolding of the receptors but could also be explained by altered trafficking of the receptors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2301-2311
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neurochemistry
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1999


  • G protein
  • Membrane trafficking
  • Protein folding
  • Protein kinesis
  • Smell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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