Dr. Mark Berry - April 24
A 45 minute primer on trace amines: Drug and alcohol abuse, species-specific olfactory cues, and metabolic disorders
Trace amines (such as 2-phenylethylamine, p-tyramine and tryptamine) are
endogenous compounds that are synthesized by the enzymatic decarboxylation of pre-cursor amino acids. Decarboxylase enzymes, as well as trace amine degradative enzymes, are found in both neuronal and non-neuronal tissue. Further, trace amines are abundant in a variety of foods commonly ingested by humans. A unique family of vertebrate G protein-coupled receptors (Trace Amine-Associated Receptors; TAAR) at least a sub-set of which are selectively activated by endogenous trace amines, have been identified in both neuronal and non-neuronal tissues. Although many TAAR remain orphaned, naturally occurring ligands for some TAAR have begun to be identified, many of which induce innate behavioural responses. This seminar will briefly review the current state of knowledge about vertebrate trace amine systems, emphasizing how they differ from the structurally related and more widely studied, monoamine neurotransmitter systems. An overview of the recent literature a) implicating trace amine systems as playing a role in psychiatric disorders including drug abuse/addiction; b) validating TAAR as a novel olfactory system particularly
implicated in species-specific olfactory cues including predator-prey relationships; and c) suggesting TAAR involvement in the control (and possible dysfunction) of energy metabolism pathways; will also be presented.