Overexpression, solubilization and purification of rat and human olfactory receptors

Elina Nekrasova, Adel Sosinskaya, Michael Natochin, Doron Lancet*, Uri Gat

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


The superfamily of olfactory receptor genes, whose products are thought to be activated by odorant ligands, is critical for odor recognition. Two olfactory receptors, olp4 from rat and OR17-4 From human, were overexpressed in Sf9 insect cells. The presence of the proteins in cell membranes was monitored by immunoblotting with peptide-specific polyclonal antibodies directed against the C-terminal sequences of these receptors and with a mAb against an N-terminal octapeptide epitope tag. A DNA sequence that codes for a His6 tag, which binds tightly to a Ni2+-chelate-affinity column, was incorporated into the N-termini of both genes. The expressed olfactory receptors were found mainly in the cell-membrane fraction. The proteins were difficult to solubilize by many detergents and only lysophosphatidylcholine was found to be both suitable for efficient solubilization of the overexpressed olfactory receptors anti compatible with the purification system used. After solubilization, the olfactory receptors were purified to near homogeneity by affinity chromatography on nickel nitrilotriacetic acid resin and by cation-exchange chromatography. Electrophoresis of the purified proteins and visualization with Coomassie Blue staining or by immunoblotting with specific antibodies, revealed bands of 32, 69 and 94 kDa, which were identified as the monomeric, dimeric and trimeric forms of the receptor proteins. The oligomeric forms were resistant to reduction and alkylation, and are therefore thought to be held together by non-covalent hydrophobic interactions that are resistant to SDS. This finding is similar to previous observations for other guanine-nucleotide-binding-regulatory-protein-coupled receptors. Reconstitution in phospholipid vesicles showed that the purified olfactory receptors insert specifically into the lipid bilayer. This provides a means to study functional reconstitution with putative transduction components such as olfactory guanine-nucleotide-binding-regulatory protein.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)28-37
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Biochemistry
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Baculovirus-expression system
  • Histidine-tag purification
  • Multimeric protein form
  • Olfactory receptor
  • Solubilization


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