Two articles in Nature and Science that address fine points of signal transduction in olfactory neurons--the cellular pathways that get turned on in response to an odor--have far-reaching implications in the field of olfaction.

The Nature piece (347:184-7, Sept. 13, 1990) moves researchers closer to isolating the elusive odor receptor. The article in Science (249:1166-8, Sept. 7, 1990) helps quell a controversy about whether olfaction transduction involves one or two pathways; the results show that it follows two. "Different odors depend on different pathways," says Randall Reed, an associate professor of molecular biology and genetics at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and one of the authors of the Nature paper. "Pleasant ones seem to prefer one way, unpleasant ones, the other."

Reed and his group were the first to clone and sequence an ion channel in an olfactory neuron. His results indicate that even a...

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