Recent genome wide in silico analyses discovered a new family (type 2 or family H) of odorant receptors (ORs) in teleost fish and frogs. However, since there is no evidence of the expression of these novel OR genes in olfactory sensory neurons (OSN), it remains unknown if type 2 ORs (OR2) function as odorant receptors. In this study, we examined expression of OR2 genes in the frog Xenopus tropicalis. The overall gene expression pattern is highly complex and differs depending on the gene and developmental stage. RT-PCR analysis in larvae showed that all of the OR2η genes we identified were expressed in the peripheral olfactory system and some were detected in the brain and skin. Whole mount in situ hybridization of the larval olfactory cavity confirmed that at least two OR2η genes so far tested are expressed in the OSN. Because tadpoles are aquatic animals, OR2η genes are probably involved in aquatic olfaction. In adults, OR2η genes are expressed in the nose, brain, and testes to different degrees depending on the genes. OR2η expression in the olfactory system is restricted to the medium cavity, which participates in the detection of water-soluble odorants, suggesting that OR2ηs function as receptors for water-soluble odorants. Moreover, the fact that several OR2ηs are significantly expressed in non-olfactory organs suggests unknown roles in a range of biological processes other than putative odorant receptor functions.
Amano, T., & Gascuel, J. (2012). Expression of odorant receptor family, type 2 or in the aquatic olfactory cavity of amphibian frog Xenopus tropicalis. PLoS ONE, 7(4). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0033922