Mechanisms of Olfaction

We are using multiple approaches to undertake a molecular dissection of the chemosensory behavior in Drosophila – a model system to correlate the expression of signal-transduction molecules with specific olfactory neurons so we can understand chemical information processing by the brain.

The recent completion of the sequence of the entire Drosophila genome is providing abundant new molecular probes to investigate these processes. Most recently we have become interested in the molecular signaling mechanisms mediating the detection and perception of volatile pheromones. A recent postdoctoral fellow, Dr. PingXi Xu, was awarded the $25,000 Eppendorf Prize in Neuroscience in 2005 for his work in this area.


Meet the PI

Dean P. Smith, M.D., Ph.D.

Dean P. Smith, M.D., Ph.D.

Departments of Pharmacology and Neuroscience

Phone: 214-648-1650
Fax: 214-648-1801

Educational Background

B.S., University of Utah, 1982
M.D., University of Utah College of Medicine, 1986
Ph.D. (Biology, Neuroscience), University of California at San Diego, under Dr. Charles Zuker
PEPR fellowship, UTSW, 1993-1995
Assistant Professor, UTSW, 1996-2004
Associate Professor, UTSW, 2004-2011
Professor, UTSW, 2011-present

Lab Members


Hao Guo, Ph.D.

Samarpita Sengupta, Ph.D.


Svetlana Lvovskaya

Beth Pelser


Francesca Bissman

Jen Wang


Parks, A., Tran, T., Gutierrez, L., Stojanik, C., Plyler, J., Thomson, G. A., Bohm, R. A., Scheuerman, E., Smith, D.P., Atkinson, N.S. (2021) Alcohol-induced aggression in Drosophila Addiction Biology. e13045. DOI: 10.1111/adb.13045.

Poudel, S., Guo, H., Smith. D. P. (2021) PKC98E Regulates Odorant Responses in Drosophila melanogaster. J. Neurosci. 41(18): 3948-3957.

Parks, A., Tran, T., Scheuerman, E., Smith, D., Atkinson, N. (2020) Alcohol Potentiates a Pheromone Signal in Flies eLife, 2020;9:e59853. DOI:

Scheuermann, E. A., Smith, D.P. (2019) Odor-Specific Deactivation Defects in a Drosophila Odorant-Binding Protein Mutant. Genetics 213(3):897-909. PMICID:PMC6827369.

Guo, H., Kunwar, K. and Smith, D. P. (2019) Multiple Channels of DEET Repellency in Drosophila. Pest Management Science 76(3):880-887. PMC7015792

Guo, H., Smith, D. P. (2017) Odorant receptor desensitization in Insects J. Exp. Neuro. 11: 1-5. PMCID: PMC5751911.

Pitts, S., Pelser, E. Meeks, J, Smith, D. (2016) Odorant Responses and Courtship Behaviors Influenced by at4 Neurons in Drosophila PLOS One 11(9): e0162761. PMCID: PMC5019410.

Ha, T.-S., Xia, R., Zhang, H., Jin, X., and Smith, D. P. (2014) A lipid flippase modulates olfactory receptor expression and odorant sensitivity in DrosophilaPNAS USA (2014);111(21):7831-6. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1401938111.

Li, Q., Ha, T. S., Okuwa, S., Smith, D. P., Volkan, P. C. (2013) Combinatorial rules of precursor specification underlying olfactory neuron diversityCurrent Biology 23: 2481-2490. PMID: 24268416.

Ronderos, D. and Smith, D. P. (2014) A farnesol-activated odorant receptor mediates oviposition behavior in Drosophila. J. Neuroscience 34: 3959-3968. PMID 24623773, PMCID:PMC3951695.

Ronderos, D. and Smith, D.P. (2009). Activation of the T1 neuronal circuit is necessary and sufficient to induce sexually dimorphic behaviors in DrosophilaJ. Neuroscience, 30(7) 2595-2599.

Ronderos, D.S. and Smith, D.P. (2009). Diverse signaling mechanisms mediate volatile odorant detection in DrosophilaFly, 3:4 1-8.

Laughlin, J.D., Ha, T.S., Jones, D.M.N., and Smith, D.P. (2008). Activation of pheromone-sensitive neurons is mediated by conformational activation of pheromone-binding proteinCell, 133: 1255-1265.

Jin, X, Ha, T.S. and Smith, D.P. (2008). SNMP is a signaling component required for pheromone sensitivity in DrosophilaPNAS USA, 105:10996-1001.

Ha, T-S and Smith D.P. (2006). A pheromone receptor mediates 11-cis vaccenyl acetate responses in DrosophilaJ. Neurosci, 26:8727-8733.

Xu, P.-X., Atkinson, R., Jones, D.M.N. and Smith, D.P. (2005). Drosophila OBP LUSH is required for Activity in Pheromone-Sensitive NeuronsNeuron, 45: 193-200.

Shanbhag, S.R., Smith, D.P., and Steinbrecht, R.A. (2005). Three odorant binding proteins are co-expressed in sensilla trichodea of Drosophila melanogasterArthropod Structure and Development, 34: 153-165.

Liu, Q., Rand, T. A., Kalidas, S., Du, F., Kim, H.-E., Smith, D.P., Wang, X-D. (2003). R2D2, a bridge between the initiation and effector steps of the Drosophila RNAi pathwayScience, 301: 1921-1925.

Elmore, T., Ignell, R. Carlson, J.R.R. and Smith, D.P. (2003). Odorant Receptor Mutants Reveal Peripheral Coding Mechanisms in Drosophila J. Neuroscience23: 9906-9912.

Xu, P.-X. and Smith, D.P. (2003). Identification of an Atypical Odorant Binding Protein Family in the Genome of Anopheles gambiaeInsect Molecular Biology, 12: 549-560.

Kruse, S. W., Zhao, R., Smith, D.P. and Jones, D.N.M. (2003). Structure of a specific alcohol-binding site defined by the Drosophila protein LUSHNature Structural Biology, 10: 694-700.

Kalidas, S. and Smith, D.P. (2002). Novel Genomic cDNA Hybrids Produce Effective RNA Interference in Adult DrosophilaNeuron, 33:1-8.

Shanbhag, S.R., Hekmat-Scafe, D., Kim, M. S., Park, S.K., Carlson, J.R., Pikielny, C., Smith, D.P., Steinbrecht, R.A. (2001). Expression mosaic of Odorant-Binding Proteins in Drosophila Olfactory OrgansMicroscopy Research and Techniques, 55:297-306.

Galindo, K. and Smith, D.P. (2001). A Large Family of Divergent Odorant-Binding Proteins Expressed in Gustatory and Olfactory SensillaGenetics, 159: 1059-1072.

Elmore, T. and Smith, D.P. (2001). Putative Drosophila Odor Receptor OR43b Localizes to Dendrites of Olfactory NeuronsInsect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 31:791-798.

Coral G. Warr, Leslie B. Vosshall, Hubert O. Amrein, John R. Carlson, Qian Gao, and Dean P. Smith (2000). A Unified Nomenclature System for the Drosophila Odorant ReceptorsCell 102, 145-146.

Elmore, T., Rodrigues, A., Smith, D.P. (1998). dRGS7 encodes a Drosophila homolog of EGL-10 and vertebrate RGS7DNA and Cell Science 17: 983-989.

Kim, M.-S., Repp, A., Smith, D.P. (1998). LUSH mediates chemosensory responses to alcohols in DrosophilaGenetics 150: 711-721.

Contact Us

Phone: 214-648-1650
Fax: 214-648-1801