Specific repertoire of olfactory receptor genes in the male germ cells of several mammalian species.
Olfactory receptors constitute the largest family among G protein-coupled receptors, with up to 1000 members expected. We have previously shown that genes belonging to this family were expressed in the male germ line from both dog and human. We have subsequently demonstrated the presence of one of the corresponding olfactory receptor proteins during dog spermatogenesis and in mature sperm cells. In this study, we investigated whether the unexpected pattern of expression of olfactory receptors in the male germ line was conserved in other mammalian species. Using reverse transcription-PCR with primers specific for the olfactory receptor gene family, about 20 olfactory receptor cDNA fragments were cloned from the testis of each mammalian species tested. As a whole, they displayed no sequence specificity compared to other olfactory receptors, but highly homologous, possibly orthologous, genes were amplified from different species. Finally, their pattern of expression, as determined by RNase protection assay, revealed that many but not all of these receptors were expressed predominantly in testis. The male germ line from each mammalian species tested ins thus characterized by a specific repertoire of olfactory receptors, which display a pattern of expression suggestive of their potential implication in the control of sperm maturation, migration, or fertilization.