Physiology-forward identification of bile acid–sensitive vomeronasal receptors

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Science Advances  29 May 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 22, eaaz6868
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaz6868


The mouse accessory olfactory system (AOS) supports social and reproductive behavior through the sensation of environmental chemosignals. A growing number of excreted steroids have been shown to be potent AOS cues, including bile acids (BAs) found in feces. As is still the case with most AOS ligands, the specific receptors used by vomeronasal sensory neurons (VSNs) to detect BAs remain unknown. To identify VSN BA receptors, we first performed a deep analysis of VSN BA tuning using volumetric GCaMP6f/s Ca2+ imaging. These experiments revealed multiple populations of BA-receptive VSNs with submicromolar sensitivities. We then developed a new physiology-forward approach for identifying AOS ligand-receptor interactions, which we call Fluorescence Live Imaging for Cell Capture and RNA sequencing, or FLICCR-seq. FLICCR-seq analysis revealed five specific V1R family receptors enriched in BA-sensitive VSNs. These studies introduce a powerful new approach for ligand-receptor matching and reveal biological mechanisms underlying mammalian BA chemosensation.

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