• Title Professor Emeritus of Biology
  • Education PhD, University of Arizona, Tucson, 1971
  • Phone 617-358-2044
  • Area of Interest sensory biology: olfaction, pain
  • CV


My research examines the cellular mechanisms underlying detection, discrimination, and encoding of sensory information. The laboratory focuses on sensory mechanisms in olfaction. The olfactory epithelium, which lines part of the nasal airways, contains several million olfactory sensory neurons that use specific odor receptors to detect and discriminate odors. The cells respond to odors with a change in electrical activity generated by membrane ion channels. Of late, we have been particularly interested in the voltage-gated sodium channels that are responsible for initiating and propagating the odor-elicited signals. Although each olfactory sensory neuron expresses just one of a large repertoire of odor receptor genes, each neuron expresses three different subtypes of voltage-gated sodium channels, each with subtly different properties. These channels are differentially distributed in the neurons, one type concentrated close to where odors are detected, another expressed primarily in the axons, and a third distributed throughout the cell. Data suggest that each channel type has its own particular role in generating the odor response, but the functional implications and biological significance of such diversity remain unclear.

Selected Publications

  • Delay RJ, Dionne VE (2003). Coupling between sensory neurons in the olfactory epithelium. Chemical Senses 28, 807-815.
  • Delay RJ, Dionne VE (2002). Two Second Messengers Mediate Amino Acid Responses in Olfactory Sensory Neurons of the Mudpuppy, Necturus maculosus. Chemical Senses 27, 673-80.
  • Eisthen HL, Delay RJ, Wirsig-Wiechmann CR, Dionne VE (2000). Neuromodulatory Effects of Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone on Olfactory Receptor. Neurons Journal of Neuroscience 20, 3947-3955.
  • Delay RJ, Dubin AE, Dionne VE (1997). A Cyclic Nucleotide-Dependent Chloride Conductance in Olfactory Receptor. Neurons Journal of Membrane Biology 159, 53-60.
  • Gurantz D, Harootunian AT, Tsien RY, Dionne VE, Margiotta JF (1994). VIP modulates neuronal acetylcholine receptor function by a cyclic AMP-dependent mechanism. Journal of Neuroscience 14, 3540-3547.
  • Pandol SJ, Gukovskaya A, Bahnson TD, Dionne VE (1994). Cellular mechanisms mediating agonist-stimulated calcium influx in the pancreatic acinar cell. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 713, 41-48.
  • Dubin AE, Dionne VE (1994). Action potentials and chemosensitive conductances in the dendrites of olfactory receptor neurons suggest novel features for odor transduction. Journal of General Physiology103, 181-201.
  • Dubin AE, Dionne VE (1993). Modulation of Cl-, K+ and nonselective cation conductances by taurine in olfactory receptor neurons of the mudpuppy, Necturus maculosus. Journal of General Physiology 101, 469-485.

Courses Taught:

  • BI 118 Biology II (Honors)
  • BI 325 Principles of Neuroscience
  • BI 594 Topics in Neurobiology: Channelopathies

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