TOUHARA Chemosensory Signal

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Research Derector: Kazushige TOUHARA
(Professor, Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences, The University of Tokyo)
Research Term: Oct 2012 - Mar 2017
Special Extension Period: Apr 2018 - Mar 2019
Grant Number: JPMJER1202


The chemosensory systems recognize odorants, pheromones, and taste substances in the external environment and play a crucial role in various behaviors in most organisms. In this study, we elucidated a molecular and neural basis for how chemosensory inputs regulate desire or emotion as well as adaptive behaviors. We identified novel chemosensory signals and their receptors that were involved in aversion, aggression, attraction, and sexual behavior. By developing technologies for visualizing brain neural circuits, we revealed the neural pathways underlying sexual behavior. The function and origin of chemosensory receptors was explored by analyzing mechanisms of odor perception in various species. We identified a putative ‘odorant receptor’ in plants. We also challenged to explore function and roles of odor signals in human society. For example, we have proposed a possible role of body odors in baby-mother bonding, and a physiological meaning for changes in body odors depending on a metabolic status or a disease. We also demonstrated stress responses to malodors associated with unpleasantness. Finally, we introduced brain functional recording techniques to quantify human odor responses. The findings from this project provide innovative insights for healthcare industry which is beneficial for quality of life.



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