Novel Roles of the Accessory Olfactory System in Rodents
The accessory olfactory system is known to process information conveyed by pheromones and predator cues that trigger behavioral and physiological changes in rodents. Among ~400 sensory receptor genes expressed in its sensory organ, the vomeronasal organ, in mice, only a few receptors have been deorphanized and assigned to specific functions. Thus, roles of the accessory olfactory system in inducing specific behaviors mostly remain elusive. We are focusing on identifying ligands and functions of those orphan sensory receptors in mice, aiming to discover novel roles of the accessory olfactory system in innately motivated behaviors.
Functional Analyses of Mammalian Steroid Hormone Transporters
All steroid hormones have been thought to freely diffuse through cellular membranes to enter cells. However, our collaborative work has recently demonstrated that the insect steroid hormone ecdysone requires a membrane transporter to enter its target cells. This work challenged the prevailing paradigm in endocrinology. We are now focusing on functions of mammalian (human and mouse) orthologs of the insect steroid hormone transporter using animal models.