CD20 is a mammalian odorant receptor expressed in a subset of olfactory sensory neurons that mediates innate avoidance of predators.

bioRxiv : the preprint server for biology(2023)

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The mammalian olfactory system detects and discriminates between millions of odorants to elicit appropriate behavioral responses. While much has been learned about how olfactory sensory neurons detect odorants and signal their presence, how specific innate, unlearned behaviors are initiated in response to ethologically relevant odors remains poorly understood. Here, we show that the 4-transmembrane protein CD20, also known as MS4A1, is expressed in a previously uncharacterized subpopulation of olfactory sensory neurons in the main olfactory epithelium of the murine nasal cavity and functions as a mammalian odorant receptor that recognizes compounds produced by mouse predators. While wild-type mice avoid these predator odorants, mice genetically deleted of CD20 do not appropriately respond. Together, this work reveals a novel CD20-mediated odor-sensing mechanism in the mammalian olfactory system that triggers innate behaviors critical for organismal survival.
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