In most mammals, chemosensation represents the dominant sensory modality and conspecific chemical communication strategies control complex social and sexual behaviors. Species- and gender-specific information about individuality, social and reproductive status is conveyed by an elusive class of chemical cues – pheromones – that are mainly detected by the specialized vomeronasal organ. Despite their fundamental significance, the basic mechanisms of vomeronasal pheromone sensing remain largely mysterious.
Our group uses a multi-faceted highly integrated approach to uncover the cellular and molecular architecture of mammalian pheromone sensing. Combining molecular, biochemical, physiological, and behavioral techniques in wildtype and mutant mouse models, our research aims to challenge existing models of vomeronasal signal transduction, analyze the principle coding logic of pheromone detection, and shed light on the neurophysiological basis of social behavior.
Thus, our studies should provide significant new insight into the principle mechanisms of vomeronasal signaling and mammalian pheromone sensing in general.