Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 102, Issue 19, pp 8213–8227 | Cite as

From radioactive ligands to biosensors: binding methods with olfactory proteins

  • Paolo PelosiEmail author
  • Jiao Zhu
  • Wolfgang Knoll


In this paper, we critically review the binding protocols currently reported in the literature to measure the affinity of odorants and pheromones to soluble olfactory proteins, such as odorant-binding proteins (OBPs), chemosensory proteins (CSPs) and Niemann-Pick class C2 (NPC2) proteins. The first part contains a brief introduction on the principles of binding and a comparison of the techniques adopted or proposed so far, discussing advantages and problems of each technique, as well as their suitable application to soluble olfactory proteins. In the second part, we focus on the fluorescent binding assay, currently the most widely used approach. We analyse advantages and drawbacks, trying to identify the causes of anomalous behaviours that have been occasionally observed, and suggest how to interpret the experimental data when such events occur. In the last part, we describe the state of the art of biosensors for odorants, using soluble olfactory proteins immobilised on biochips, and discuss the possibility of using such approach as an alternative way to measure binding events and dissociation constants.


Ligand binding Odorant-binding proteins Chemosensory proteins Fluorescent assay Biosensors 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH, Biosensor TechnologiesTullnAustria

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