Trace Amine-Associated Receptors

The “trace amines” are normal chemicals found in the brain that have been associated with neurological disorders such as depression, schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and addiction. In the last 10 years, there have been major advances in our understanding of how trace amines contribute to normal and abnormal brain function. A family of specific receptors for trace amines was recently identified, the so-called “Trace Amine-Associated Receptors” or TAARs. TAARs are found in all mammals examined so far, including humans. The best described member of this receptor family, TAAR1, is found in the brain and is activated by trace amines, and by psychostimulants and drugs of abuse such as LSD, methamphetamine, and MDMA (ecstasy). As a result, TAAR1 is a focus of extensive research. Much less is known about the other members of the TAAR gene family (TAARs 2 through 9 in mouse), despite the fact that they may also function in neurological disorders. This proposal describes two complementary Aims: to test whether TAARs 2 through 9 are found in the mouse brain, and whether removing these receptors causes behavioral changes that are consistent with a role in neurological disorders. To do this, we are taking advantage of unique, genetically modified mouse strains that my lab recently generated to study olfactory function. Support for this proposal would allow my lab to leverage these currently existing genetic tools to pursue a new avenue of research that may have clinical relevance. The long-term goal of this work is to better understand how dysfunction of TAAR genes contributes to neurological disorders in humans.

Other Grants

Lindsay M. De Biase, Ph.D., University of California Los Angeles
The role of microglial lysosomes in selective neuronal vulnerability
Synapses, the sites of signaling between neurons in the brain, play essential roles in learning, memory, and the health of neurons themselves. An enduring mystery is why some neurons are…
How the nervous system constructs internal models of the external world
As animals navigate their environments, they construct internal models of the external sensory world and use these models to guide their behavior. This ability to incorporate ongoing sensory stimuli into…
Xiaojing Gao, Ph.D., Stanford University
When Neural Circuits Meet Molecular Circuits: Quantitative Genetic Manipulation with Single-cell Consistency
Cells are the building blocks of our bodies. We get sick when the cells “misbehave”. The way modern gene therapies work is to introduce genes, fragments of DNA molecules that…
Rafiq Huda, Ph.D., Rutgers University
Conducting the orchestra of movement—functional role of striatal astrocytes in health and disease
Movement requires coordinated activity across a large brain-wide network. The striatum is a particularly important part of this circuit; it integrates motor-related information from many distinct brain regions to regulate…