Formyl peptide receptors are candidate chemosensory receptors in the vomeronasal organ.
The identification of receptors that detect environmental stimuli lays a foundation for exploring the mechanisms and neural circuits underlying sensation. The mouse vomeronasal organ (VNO), which detects pheromones and other semiochemicals, has 2 known families of chemoreceptors, V1Rs and V2Rs. Here, we report a third family of mouse VNO receptors comprising 5 of 7 members of the formyl peptide receptor (FPR) family. Unlike other FPRs, which function in the immune system, these FPRs are selectively expressed in VNO neurons in patterns strikingly similar to those of V1Rs and V2Rs. Each FPR is expressed in a different small subset of neurons that are highly dispersed in the neuroepithelium, consistently coexpress either G alpha(i2) or G alpha(o), and lack other chemoreceptors examined. Given the presence of formylated peptides in bacteria and mitochondria, possible roles for VNO FPRs include the assessment of conspecifics or other species based on variations in normal bacterial flora or mitochondrial proteins.