Haiqing Zhao, PhD

Zhao photo Haiqing Zhao, PhD
Professor
Department of Biology

226 Mudd Hall
3400 N. Charles Street
Baltimore MD 21218

Office: 410-516-7391
Lab 410-516-7641
Email: hzhao@jhu.edu

Research Summary

The Zhao laboratory is interested in the first step of olfaction—olfactory signal transduction, the process by which olfactory sensory neurons transform information of odorous chemicals into membrane potential changes. In vertebrates, olfactory signal transduction takes place in olfactory cilia, which extend from the tip of the olfactory sensory neuron dendrite into the mucus that covers the nasal epithelium. In most olfactory sensory neurons, transduction is achieved through a G protein-coupled, cyclic AMP-mediated signaling pathway, starting with the binding of an odorous chemical to its receptor protein. Ca2+ plays a key role in mediating and regulating olfactory transduction. On the one hand, Ca2+ amplifies OSN depolarization by activating the Cl- channel ANO2; on the other hand, it negatively regulates the transduction pathway to cause adaptation—a phenomenon manifested as a reduced sensitivity upon sustained or repeated odor exposure. Our current research focuses on identifying proteins that partake in or regulate the transduction process and on understanding how calcium-dependent regulatory events influence the sensitivity and response kinetics of olfactory sensory neurons.