Olfactory (smell) and gustatory (taste) systems face the fundamental challenge to accurately detect and distinguish an almost limitless chemical landscape. The first animal chemoreceptors were identified almost thirty years ago, yet it remains unclear how these receptors recognize different chemical ligands. The Butterwick laboratory seeks to fill this critical void by leveraging a structure-based approach to investigate how olfactory and gustatory receptors function, with a particular emphasis on receptors involved in host seeking by insect vectors of human disease. We use cryo-electron microscopy to obtain atomic-resolution structural information, and a variety of biochemical, biophysical, and electrophysiological techniques to gain insight into receptor activity. Our ultimate goal is to elucidate the basic principles of chemical recognition so that we may understand how our senses of smell and taste decipher the chemical world.
Biochemistry; Biophysics; Electrophysiology; Pharmacology; Smell; Taste; Cryoelectron Microscopy; Ligand-Gated Ion Channels
Mosquito-borne Diseases; Vector-borne Diseases