Department of Biological Sciences, Columbia University, New York, New York, USA.
Olfactory receptor (OR) genes are the largest gene superfamily in vertebrates. We have identified the mouse OR genes from the nearly complete Celera mouse genome by a comprehensive data mining strategy. We found 1,296 mouse OR genes (including 20% pseudogenes), which can be classified into 228 families. OR genes are distributed in 27 clusters on all mouse chromosomes except 12 and Y. One OR gene cluster matches a known locus mediating a specific anosmia, indicating the anosmia may be due directly to the loss of receptors. A large number of apparently functional 'fish-like' Class I OR genes in the mouse genome may have important roles in mammalian olfaction. Human ORs cover a similar 'receptor space' as the mouse ORs, suggesting that the human olfactory system has retained the ability to recognize a broad spectrum of chemicals even though humans have lost nearly two-thirds of the OR genes as compared to mice.