The team "Biology of Olfaction and Biosensors" (BOB) of the "Neurobiology of Olfaction and Modelization in Imaging" (NOeMI) research unit, in the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, is directed by Edith Pajot. INRA-NOeMI-BOB has a wide expertise in olfactory receptors heterologous expression in yeast and other mammalian cells, and a good experience in G protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) in general. Our team also masters advanced molecular biology techniques, and has all necessary experience to undertake and evaluate the functional expression of the olfactory receptors. We also have proven expertise in performing calcium imaging in response to odorant stimulation of the dissociated olfactory neurons. In addition, we have developed an experience in the use of surface plasmon resonance technique in order to assess the functionality of the olfactory receptors carried by nano-liposomes. Our team in fact has been the first in demonstrating the functional response of olfactory receptors in an acellular system derived from OR-expressing yeast. Our team includes 17 permanent people, and our objectives are three-fold. We analyse the molecular mechanisms of olfactory signal generation (binding and perception of odorant ligands, signal coding by the olfactory receptors, pharmacological behavior of the receptors, signal transduction …), we develop expression and screening systems to identify olfactory receptors / odorant couples, and work at the conception of olfactory biosensors, and finally we investigate the plasticity and adaptation of the olfactory system under the influence of endogenous perturbations (hormonal status stemming from the nutritional status, paracrine modulations), or exogenous perturbations (such as organic micropollutants).


The INRA-NOeMI-BOB role in the Bond Project is to thoroughly address two major issues to demonstrate the ability of the consortium to reach a fully operational olfactory biosensor :

  • Identifying the olfactory receptor(s) relevant to detect an odorant of interest. Establishing the correspondance between odorant ligands and relevant olfactory receptors is an objective requiring various competences and advanced olfactory receptor/odorant screening techniques, that their team masters. This key step, identification of the olfactory receptor(s) relevant to detect an odorant of interest, will be necessary whatever the area of application considered for an olfactory bioelectronic sensor.
  • Using yeast as a performant and convenient expression system for the ORs selected, and demonstrating that various - if not all - olfactory receptors can be expressed following this procedure involving low temperature induction of OR expression in galactose medium. It is of utmost importance for this project to validate the efficiency of this yeast expression system regardless of the olfactory receptor sequence. This major result would challenge other reported systems that suggest modifications or co-expressions assumed to improve the level of functional expression, but are very often efficient for only some receptors and not for others




Research Director, INRA

Neurobiology of Olfaction and Modelization in Imaging (NOeMI), UR1197

Biology of Olfaction and Biosensors (BOB)

INRA, Bat. Biotechnologies, Domaine de Vilvert
F-78350 Jouy-en-Josas, France
tel : 01 34 65 25 63
fax : 01 34 65 22 41



 Edith PAJOT-AUGY was born on 31 October 1958 in France. She received her degree as Physical Engineer in 1981 from the Ecole Supérieure de Physique et Chimie Industrielle de Paris, and her Engineer-Ph. D. in 1983. From 1983 to 1985 she was a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Pennsylvania (USA), then an engineer at MATRA, and integrated INRA in 1986. Working in the field of olfaction since 1992, and now a research director, her research interests include functional expression of recombinant G-protein-coupled receptors (olfactory receptors), olfactory biosensors, structure-function relationship, use of reporter genes, and molecular modelization of olfactory receptors / odorant docking / molecular dynamics.

 Roland SALESSE was born on 13 May 1949 in France. He received his degree as Agronomical Engineer in 1971 from the Institut National Agronomique, and his Ph. D. in 1975 from the Orsay University. He is a member of several scientific societies, and a referee of international journals. He has published about a 100 scientific articles in peer-reviewed international journals. He is involved in teaching at the University of Versailles-St-Quentin-en Yvelines, and a member of several research and teaching councils (Ministère de l’Enseignement Supérieur et de la Recherche for the Life Sciences Program (Structural Biology), Department of Animal Physiology (INRA)). Currently, he is the director of the Unité de Neurobiologie de l'Olfaction et de la Prise Alimentaire (NOPA) at INRA Jouy-en-Josas, a 60 person laboratory working on olfaction, gustation and feeding behaviour.