NEW YORK, June 1 – Senomyx, a La Jolla, Calif.-based company that is studying genomic data to seek out new flavor and fragrance molecules, said Friday it had identified 347 human olfactory receptor genes related to smell.
According to the scientists’ findings, which will be published in the June issue of Genome Biology , each of the olfactory receptor genes is predicted to encode for a unique protein that enables the recognition of different smells.
Senomyx said that while scientists have previously estimated that there are some 1,000 olfactory receptor genes, the company’s researchers, led by Sergey Zozulya, now believe that only the 347 genes they identified are functional and relevant to smell.
The remainder, Senomyx said, are non-functional pseudogenes.
Of the 347 genes Senomyx identified, 100 had been previously identified as olfactory receptors, while the other 250 were discovered by the company’s scientist, Senomyx said.
The Senomyx researchers arrived at their conclusions using bioinformatic tools to analyze unannotated human genome sequence.
Senomyx will now use the findings to begin developing molecules for use in consumer products.