We describe how mammalian olfactory receptors (ORs) could be used as sensing elements of highly specific and sensitive bioelectronic noses. An OR and an appropriate Gα protein were co-expressed in Saccharomyces cerevisiae cells from which membrane nanosomes were prepared, and immobilized on a sensor chip. By Surface Plasmon Resonance, we were able to quantitatively evaluate OR stimulation by an odorant, and G protein activation. We demonstrate that ORs in nanosomes discriminate between odorant ligands and unrelated odorants, as in whole cells. This assay also provides the possibility for quantitative assessment of the coupling efficiency of the OR with different Gα subunits, without the interference of the cellular transduction pathway. Our findings will be useful to develop a new generation of electronic noses for detection and discrimination of volatile compounds, particularly amenable to micro- and nano-sensor formats.
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