Emily Liman

Harold Dornsife Chair in Neurosciences and Professor of Biological Sciences
Emily Liman
Email Liman@usc.edu Office HNB 301 Office Phone (213) 821-1454

Research & Practice Areas

Neurobiology, Molecular Biology


Emily Liman is a cellular physiologist working at the interface of ion channel biophysics and sensory biology. Liman earned a BA in Biology from Princeton University and a PhD in Neuroscience from Harvard Medical School. She was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School with Linda Buck and David Corey before joining the faculty at the University of Southern California where she is currently the Harold Dornsife Professor of Neuroscience. Liman is known for her work on sensory TRP channels and more recently for the discovery of the OTOP proton channels, one of which functions as a sour receptor. Among her honors, Liman is the 2023 recipient of the Cole award from the Biophysical Society.  Liman has been active in a number of scientific organizations, including service as the 2024 program chair for the annual meeting for the Association for Chemoreceptive Sciences.


  • Ph.D. Neurobiology, Harvard University, 6/1992
  • B.A. Biology, Princeton University, 1/1985
    • Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard Medical School (PI: Linda Buck), 08/1992-06/1994
  • Research Keywords

    Ion channel structure and biophysics, Taste transduction, Molecular neuroscience

    Research Specialties

    Neurobiology, Molecular Biology

  • Journal Article

    • Liman, E. R., Kinnamon, S. C. (2021). Sour taste: receptors, cells and circuits. Curr Opin Physiol. Vol. 20 (2021/03/13), pp. 8-15.
    • Liman, E. R. (2021). Insights into a receptor that lets insects sense scents. Nature. Vol. 597 (78742021/08/06), pp. 37-39.
    • Liman, E. R. (2020). Salty Taste: From Transduction to Transmitter Release, Hold the Calcium. Neuron. Vol. 106 (52020/06/05), pp. 709-711.
    • Saotome, K., Teng, B., Tsui, C. C., Lee, W. H., Tu, Y. H., Kaplan, J. P., Sansom, M. S., Liman, E. R., Ward, A. B. (2019). Structures of the otopetrin proton channels Otop1 and Otop3. Nature structural & molecular biology. Vol. 26 (6), pp. 518-525. PubMed Web Address
    • Ye, W., Tu, Y. H., Cooper, A. J., Zhang, Z., Katritch, V., Liman, E. R. (2018). Activation Stoichiometry and Pore Architecture of TRPA1 Probed with Channel Concatemers. Scientific reports. Vol. 8 (1), pp. 17104. PubMed Web Address
    • Tu, Y. H., Cooper, A. J., Teng, B., Chang, R. B., Artiga, D. J., Turner, H. N., Mulhall, E. M., Ye, W., Smith, A. D., Liman, E. R. (2018). An evolutionarily conserved gene family encodes proton-selective ion channels. Science (New York, N.Y.). Vol. 359 (6379), pp. 1047-1050. PubMed Web Address
    • Ye, W., Chang, R. B., Bushman, J. D., Tu, Y. H., Mulhall, E. M., Wilson, C. E., Cooper, A. J., Chick, W. S., Hill-Eubanks, D. C., Nelson, M. T., Kinnamon, S. C., Liman, E. R. (2016). The K+ channel KIR2.1 functions in tandem with proton influx to mediate sour taste transduction. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Vol. 113 (2), pp. E229-38. PubMed Web Address
    • Bushman, J. D., Ye, W., Liman,Bushman, E. R., Ye, W., Liman, E. R. (2015). A proton current associated with sour taste: distribution and functional properties. FASEB journal : official publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. Vol. 29 (7), pp. 3014-26. PubMed Web Address
    • Liman, E. R., Zhang, Y. V., Montell,Liman, C. ,., Zhang, Y. V., Montell, C. (2014). Peripheral coding of taste. Neuron. Vol. 81 (5), pp. 984-1000. PubMed Web Address
    • Liman,Liman, E. R. (2014). TRP Channels: Pain enters through the side door. Nature chemical biology. Vol. 10 (3), pp. 171-2. PubMed Web Address
    • Liman,Liman, E. R. (2012). Cell signaling. Putting the squeeze on phototransduction. Science (New York, N.Y.). Vol. 338 (6104), pp. 200-1. PubMed Web Address
    • Wang, Y. Y., Chang, R. B., Allgood, S. D., Silver, W. L., Liman, E. R. (2011). A TRPA1-dependent mechanism for the pungent sensation of weak acids. J Gen Physiol. Vol. 137 (6), pp. 493-505.
    • Wang, Y. Y., Chang, R. B., Liman, E. R. (2010). TRPA1 is a component of the nociceptive response to CO2. J Neurosci. Vol. 30 (39), pp. 12958-63.
    • Chang, R. B., Waters, H., Liman, E. R. (2010). A proton current drives action potentials in genetically identified sour taste cells. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Vol. 107 (51), pp. 22320-5.
    • Wang, Y. Y., Chang, R. B., Waters, H. N., McKemy, D. D., Liman, E. R. (2008). The Nociceptor Ion Channel TRPA1 Is Potentiated and Inactivated by Permeating Calcium Ions. Journal of Biological Chemistry. Vol. 283, pp. 32691-32703. PubMed Web Address
    • Zhang, Z., Zhao, Z., Margolskee, R., Liman, E. (2007). The transduction channel TRPM5 is gated by intracellular calcium in taste cells. J Neurosci. Vol. 27, pp. 5777-5786.
    • Zhang, Z., Wang, Y., Okawa, H., Liman, E. R. (2005). Phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate rescues TRPM4 channels from desensitization. Journal of Biological Chemistry. Vol. 280, pp. p.39185-92.
    • Liman, E. R., Innan, H. (2003). Relaxed selective pressure on an essential component of pheromone transduction in primate evolution. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. Vol. 100, pp. 3328-3332.
    • Liman, E. R., Corey, D. P., Dulac, C. (1999). TRP2, a candidate transduction channel for mammalian pheromone sensory signalling. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 96:5791-5796 (1999). Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. Vol. 96, pp. 5791-5796.
    • Berghard, A., Buck, L. B., Liman, E. R. (1996). Evidence for distinct signaling mechanisms in two mammalian olfactory sense organs. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 93:2365-2369 (1996). Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. Vol. 93, pp. 2365-2369.
    • NIH/NSF Career Development Award, Independent Scientist Award, National Institute on Deafness and Other Communicative Disorders, 2001
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