Molecular mechanisms of olfactory transduction
Our research group is interested in understanding how the brain represents the external world. We are working in the cellular and molecular neuroscience of sensory systems, with a focus on olfaction. The olfactory system detects and discriminates among a large number of structurally diverse odorant molecules that carry information about the environment. The initial steps of olfaction occur in olfactory sensory neurons located in the olfactory epithelium of the nasal cavity.
Some animals also have a separate accessory olfactory system, whose primary sensory neurons are found in the sensory epithelium of the vomeronasal organ. We study the molecular mechanisms that transform the chemical odorant signal into the electrical messages that are transmitted to the brain.
To address these questions we use an interdisciplinary approach and the following techniques: patch-clamp electrophysiology, calcium imaging, molecular biology, immunohistochemistry and computational studies.
Calcium-activated chloride channels
We study a family of proteins called TMEM16 or anoctamins. TMEM16-A and –B have been shown to function as calcium-activated chloride channels. We use the patch-clamp technique combined with site-specific mutagenesis, immunohistochemistry and computational studies to understand the physiological role of these channels in sensory systems.