A Scalable, Multiplexed Assay for Decoding Receptor-Ligand Interactions
Chemicals such as drugs, hormones, and odorants can have many potential interactions with endogenous targets, and uncovering these relationships is critical for understanding and modulating function. Mammalian olfactory receptors (ORs), a large family of G protein-coupled receptors, mediate olfaction through activation by small molecules. Each OR can respond to many odorants, and vice versa, making exploring this space one interaction at a time difficult. We developed a high-throughput receptor screening platform in human cell lines to screen libraries of chemicals against a multiplexed library of receptors using next-generation sequencing of barcoded genetic reporters. We screened three concentrations of 181 odorants, where in each well we record the activity of 39 ORs simultaneously, and identified 79 novel associations, including ligands for 15 orphan receptors. This platform allows the cost-effective mapping of large chemical libraries to receptor repertoires at scale.