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UniProt release 2013_10

Published October 16, 2013


When the cat’s away...

For all creatures, early detection of predators is a matter of survival. Olfaction often plays a crucial role in this regard. Odorant molecules activate specific receptors on sensory neurons. The axons from neurons expressing the same olfactory receptor come together at the same glomeruli, near the surface of the olfactory bulb of the brain. It is generally thought that odorants can be recognized by different receptors and that each glomerulus makes only a small contribution to the global representation of a given odor. However, recent discoveries suggest that the olfactory system may not be as redundant as previously thought.

Mice exhibit innate aversion to volatile amines, such as beta-phenylethylamine (PEA) and isopentylamine (IPA) that are excreted in cat urine. Trace amines robustly activate trace-amine associated receptors (TAARs). There are 15 TAAR genes in mouse. Targeted concomitant deletion of 14 of them (TAAR2 through 9) show no apparent phenotype. Homozygous mutant mice are healthy and breed normally. The only difference with wild-type and heterozygous littermates is that their aversion to PEA and to cat urine is abolished. This effect is specific, since their response to compounds produced by red fox remains unchanged. Among TAAR genes, TAAR4 is of particular interest, since it is exquisitely sensitive to PEA, with apparent affinities rivaling those seen with mammalian pheromone receptors. Amazingly, knockout of this single gene produces a loss of aversion to PEA and to puma or lynx urine, although homozygous mutant animals still avoid other odorants, such as IPA, exactly as their wild-type and heterozygous littermates do. To our knowledge, this is the first report of an individual main olfactory receptor contributing substantially to odor perception.

This type of exciting discovery reported in the literature triggers yet another innate reaction, that of Swiss-Prot curators to update UniProtKB. The revised mouse TAAR4 entry is now publicly available.

UniProtKB news

Cross-references to PRO

Cross-references have been added to PRO (Protein Ontology), which provides an ontological representation of protein-related entities by explicitly defining them and showing the relationships between them.

PRO is available at

The format of the explicit links in the flat file is:

Resource abbreviationPRO
Resource identifierPRO identifier
DR   PRO; PR:O42634; -.

Show all the entries having a cross-reference to PRO.

Changes to the controlled vocabulary of human diseases

New diseases:

Modified diseases:

Deleted diseases:

  • Microphthalmia, isolated, with cataract, 4

Changes to the controlled vocabulary for PTMs

New terms for the feature key ‘Modified residue’ (‘MOD_RES’ in the flat file):

  • Methionine (R)-sulfoxide
  • Methionine (S)-sulfoxide

Changes in subcellular location controlled vocabulary

New subcellular location:

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