SUMMARY OF WORK IN LINDA BUCK'S LAB
The major focus of our research is the mammalian olfactory system, the neural system that governs the sense of smell and pheromone sensing. Mammals can detect an estimated 10,000 or more chemicals as having a distinct smell, and pheromones can stimulate instinctive behaviors as different as mating and aggression. How does the olfactory system detect so many different chemicals? And how does the brain translate those chemicals into diverse odor perceptions and behaviors? We have employed a variety of molecular, genetic, cellular, and anatomical techniques to investigate these questions. This multipronged approach has led to the identification of multigene families encoding receptors for odorants and pheromones, information about how olfactory receptors are used to encode the unique identities of different odorants, and initial insights into how signals from a multitude of different receptors is organized in the nose and the brain. Although significant progress has been made, the molecular mechanisms and neural circuits underlying odor and pheromone sensing and their effects on emotional states and behavior, such as fear and aggression, remain challenging mysteries.
Copyright © 2003-2014 Molecular & Cellular Biology Program, University of Washington
Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center | University of Washington
Institute for Systems Biology | Seattle Biomed