We have studied the effect of concanavalin A (Con A) on the rat electro-olfactogram response to several odorants. Each odorant was applied over a range of concentrations. For hydrophobic odorants whose response was affected by Con A, the diminution in response was maximal at odorant concentrations of about 1 microM in the olfactory mucus. The (odour) concentration-dependence of the change is compatible with the idea that Con A inactivates one or more types of olfactory receptor that normally bind odorants with dissociation constants of the order of 100 nM. With hydrophilic odorants we had to apply concentrations very much higher than this to elicit any response from the system. At these high concentrations we could observe Con A-induced diminutions in response.

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