Structural activation pathways from dynamic olfactory receptor-odorant interactions

Peter C. Lai, Michael S. Singer, Chiquito J. Crasto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


We have simulated an odor ligand's dynamic behavior in the binding region of an olfactory receptor (OR). Our short timescale computational studies (up to 200 ps) have helped identify unprecedented postdocking ligand behavior of ligands. From in vacuo molecular dynamics simulations of interactions between models of rat OR I7 and 10 aldehyde ligands, we have identified a dissociative pathway along which the ligand exits and enters the OR-binding pocket - a transit event. The ligand's transit through the receptor's binding region may mark the beginning of a signal transduction cascade leading to odor recognition. We have graphically traced the rotameric changes in key OR amino acid side chains during the transit. Our results have helped substantiate or refute previously held notions of amino acid contribution to ligand stability in the binding pocket. Our observations of ligand activity when compared to those of experimental (electroolfactogram response) OR-activation studies provide a view to predicting the stability of ligands in the binding pocket as a precursor to OR activation by the ligand.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)781-792
Number of pages12
JournalChemical Senses
Issue number9
StatePublished - Nov 2005


  • Ligand binding
  • Molecular dynamics
  • Olfactory receptors


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