TCB Publications - Abstract

Ilia A. Solov'yov, Po-Yao Chang, and Klaus Schulten. Vibrationally assisted electron transfer mechanism of olfaction: Myth or reality? Physical Chemistry - Chemical Physics, 14:13861-13871, 2012. (PMC: 3478898)

SOLO2012B Smell is a vital sense for animals. The mainstream explanation of smell is based on recognition of the odorant molecules through characteristics of their surface, e.g., shape, but certain experiments suggest that such recognition is complemented by recognition of vibrational modes. According to this suggestion an olfactory receptor is activated by electron transfer assisted through odorant vibrational excitation. The hundreds to thousands of different olfactory receptors in an animal recognize odorants over a discriminant landscape with surface properties and vibrational spectrum as the two major dimensions. In the present paper we introduce the vibrationally assisted mechanism of olfaction and demonstrate for several odorants that, indeed, a strong enhancement of an electron tunneling rate due to operant vibrations can arise. We discuss in this regard the influence of odorant deuteration and explain, thereby, recent experiments performed on Drosophila melanogaster. Our demonstration is based on known physical properties of biological electron transfer and on ab initio calculations on odorants carried out for the purpose of the present study. We identify a range of physical characteristics which olfactory receptors and odorants must obey for the vibrationally assisted electron transfer mechanism to function. We argue that the stated characteristics are feasible for realistic olfactory receptors, noting, though, that the receptor structure presently is still unknown, but had been studied through homology modeling.

Download Full Text

The manuscripts available on our site are provided for your personal use only and may not be retransmitted or redistributed without written permissions from the paper's publisher and author. You may not upload any of this site's material to any public server, on-line service, network, or bulletin board without prior written permission from the publisher and author. You may not make copies for any commercial purpose. Reproduction or storage of materials retrieved from this web site is subject to the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, Title 17 U.S.C.

Download full text: Journal, Request a Copy, Supplemental Material (375.4KB) - Cover image