Work in the Liman laboratory is focused on understanding how sensory information is detected and transduced, using a combination of electrophysiology, molecular biology, genetics and genomics. Professor Liman trained with Linda Buck and David Corey, with whom she identified components of sensory signaling, including the ion channel TRPC2, which mediates pheromone detection (see Liman, Corey and Dulac, 1999). Subsequent work in the Liman lab showed that TRPC2 was lost in human evolution at the time when trichromatic color vision evolved, indicating that vision in humans has largely replaced pheromone signaling (Liman and Innan, 2003).
Ongoing work in the Liman lab is focused on mechanisms of taste signaling, mechanisms of pain signaling, and the identification of ion channels that contribute to these processes. In recent work, we showed that an ion channel responsible for the detection of spicy mustards, TRPA1, is also activated by carbon dioxide (Wang et al, 2010). This may explain some of the pungency we feel when we drink carbonated beverages. In a separate study, we examined the mechanism of taste transduction using genetically modified mice in which subsets of taste cells are fluorescently labeled. Using patch clamp electrophysiology and uv-uncaging of protons we showed that sour taste is mediated by an apically located proton channel (Chang et al, 2010). Future experiments in the lab are aimed at identifying the molecular nature of this proton channel. The lab uses methods of molecular biology, including generation of transgenic animals, combined with patch clamp electrophysiology and calcium imaging.
Emily Liman, Ph.D. is a professor of Biological Sciences, in the Section of Neurobiology at the University of Southern California.
Summer 2014: Emily Liman
to co-chair Society of General Physiologists meeting on Sensory Transduction.
Research in the Liman Lab is supported by the NIH