Meyerhoff Graduate Fellows Program

Student Profiles

Veronica Lopez
Chemistry and Biochemistry

Area of Doctoral Study: Biochemistry
Undergraduate Institute: Universidad Metropolitana

Research Advisor: Steven D. Munger, Ph.D.

Description of Research

Mammals use their sense of smell for detecting chemical stimuli, such as food odors and pheromones that are critical for survival and reproduction. One way that the olfactory system detects such a wide variety of chemicals is to employ several olfactory subsystems that express distinct receptors and make specialized connections to the brain. However, the molecular mechanisms that underlie the detection of odors by many of these subsystems remains poorly understood. Thus, identification of the cellular components involved during odor recognition is essential to further understand the biology behind it. In order to better understand how the olfactory system detects odors, I have begun laser capture microdissection (LCM) followed by  liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC/MS) to create a protein profile of  distinct regions of the mouse main olfactory epithelium (MOE). LCM was performed on small regions of frozen histological tissue sections to isolate and extract proteins from defined populations of olfactory sensory neurons. Captured cells were lysed and trypsin-digested for LC/MS analysis. Initial studies will focus on the discovery and quantification of signaling proteins present in these extracts.

Supported by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (DC005633) and by the Meyerhoff Scholars Program.

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