Ca2+ signals:
Molecular Mechanisms and Integrative Functions Collaborative Research Center 894

Project A17 - Frank Zufall

Mechanisms of receptor-operated Ca2+ signals in pheromone-detecting sensory neurons

This laboratory has a long-standing interest in investigating Ca2+ signaling mechanisms underlying the detection of pheromones and other chemical social cues by nasal sensory neurons. We plan to continue to investigate mechanisms of receptor-operated Ca2+ signals in pheromone-detecting sensory neurons by using genetically altered mouse models and will focus on signal transduction mechanisms in sensory neurons of the vomeronasal organ (VNO).

In Aim I, we will test the hypothesis that a phospholipase C (PLC) isoform functions as key enzyme in this second messenger cascade. We will analyze mouse strains harboring specific deletions in PLC isoforms and use electrophysiological recording and Ca2+ imaging to examine the consequences for vomeronasal signaling.

In Aim II, we will determine what the function of InsP3 signaling in VSNs is. To achieve this, we will focus on the type 3 InsP3 receptor and will analyze vomeronasal phenotypes of mice lacking this receptor.

In Aim III, we will investigate the question how the olfactory system detects pathogens. We have identified a novel ligand family that is released by pathogenic bacteria and detected by formyl peptide receptors. We will test how these molecules are detected by nasal sensory neurons and which signal transduction mechanisms underlie this neural recognition process.