Thomas Bozza Molecular genetics and physiology of olfaction

Research Interests

My laboratory uses mouse genetics, molecular biology, electrophysiology, in vivo imaging and behavior to investigate the regulatory mechanisms underlying chemosensory gene expression, and the physiological mechanisms underlying chemical communication in mammals.  

Mammals recognize chemicals in the environment using a vast array of chemosensory genes called odorant receptors.  Odorant receptors represent the largest family of G protein-coupled receptors in the mammalian genome: humans have 400 genes while mice have over 1,000.  Odorant receptors exhibit a rare form of gene regulation—random monoallelic expression. Each sensory neuron in the nasal cavity expresses only one allele of one receptor gene (from over 2,000 possible alleles).  We are investigating the genetic and epigenetic mechanisms that are responsible for this selective odorant receptor gene choice in vivo using transgenics, gene targeting, CRISPR/Cas9-based genome manipulation, and gene expression analysis.

Neurons that express a given odorant receptor send convergent axonal projections to specific structures in the brain called glomeruli.  This effectively maps chemosensory genes onto the surface of the brain.  The odorant receptors are involved in axon guidance as well as chemosensory function.  My laboratory is examining how odorant receptors are mapped in the brain and how individual receptors impact innate and learned olfactory behaviors such as predator avoidance, aggression and mating.

Selected Publications

Single olfactory receptors set odor detection thresholds. Dewan A, Cichy A, Zhang J, Miguel K, Feinstein P, Rinberg D, and Bozza T. Nature Communications. 2018 July 23;9:2887.

Stimulus dependent diversity and stereotypy in the output of an olfactory functional unit. Arneodo EM, Penikis KB, Rabinowitz N, Licata A, Cichy A, Zhang J, Bozza T, and Rinberg D. Nature Communications. 2018 April 9;9:1347.

Multiple perceptible signals from a single olfactory glomerulus. Smear M, Resulaj A, Zhang J, Bozza T, and Rinberg D. Nature Neuroscience. 2013 November;16(11):1687-1691.

Non-redundant coding of aversive odours in the main olfactory pathway. Dewan A, Pacifico R, Zhan R, Rinberg D, and Bozza T. Nature. 2013 May 23;497(7450):486-489.

Ultrasensitive Detection of Amines by a Trace Amine-Associated Receptor. Zhang J, Pacifico R, Cawley D, Feinstein P, and Bozza T. Journal of Neuroscience. 2013 February 13;33(7):3228-3239.

View all publications by Thomas Bozza listed in the National Library of Medicine (PubMed).