Hiroaki Matsunami

Hiroaki Matsunami
"Function of Odorant Receptors"


Primary academic appointment: Professor (with tenure)
Primary academic department (not DUAP): Molecular Genetics and Microbiology



Secondary appointment (if any) - (department): Neurobiology
A member of Duke Institute for Brain Sciences
A member of Duke Cancer Institute (Cancer Genomics and Genetics)

Present academic rank and title (if any): Professor (since 2015)
Date and rank of first Duke Faculty appointment: October 1, 2001; Assistant Professor

Date of birth: January 9, 1969
Place (include city/state/country): Hiroshima, Japan
Citizen of: Japan


  • College, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan 1991 B.S. (Biology)
  • Graduate or Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan 1993 M.S. (Biophysics)
  • Professional School Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan 1996 Ph.D. (Biophysics)

Professional training and academic career

  • Harvard Medical School Postdoctoral fellow 1996-2001
  • Duke University Medical Center Assistant Professor 2001-2008
  • Duke University Medical Center Associate Professor (with tenure) 2008-2015
  • Duke University Medical Center Professor (with tenure) 2015-present


  • Refereed journals: Original research publications as a principle investigator (2014-present)
    1) Mainland, J.D., Keller, A., Li, Y.R, Zhou, T. Snyder, L.L., Moberly, A.H., Adipietro, K.A., Liu, W.L.L., Zhuang, H., Zhan, S., Lee, S.S., Lin, A., and Matsunami, H. (2014) The missense of smell: functional variability in the human odorant receptor repertoire. Nat Neurosci 17, 114-120 (Epub 2013 Dec 8)
    2) Sekharan, S., Ertem, M.Z., Zhuang, H., Block, E., Matsunami, H., Zhang, R., Wei, J.N., Pan, Y., and Batista, V.S. (2014). QM/MM model of the mouse olfactory receptor MOR244-3 validated by site-directed mutagenesis experiments. Biophysical journal 107, L5-8.
    3) Li, Y. *, Peterlin, Z. *, Ho, J. *, Yarnitzky, T., Liu, M.T., Fichman, M., Niv, M.Y., Matsunami, H., Firestein, S., and Ryan, K. (2014). Aldehyde Recognition and Discrimination by Mammalian Odorant Receptors via Functional Group-Specific Hydration Chemistry. ACS chemical biology 9, 2563-2571. (Ho, J. was a graduate student in the Matsunami lab)
    4) McClintock, T.S., Adipietro, K., Titlow, W.B., Breheny, P., Walz, A., Mombaerts, P., and Matsunami, H. (2014). In vivo identification of eugenol-responsive and muscone-responsive mouse odorant receptors. J Neurosci 34, 15669-15678.
    5) Mainland, J.D., Li, Y.R, Zhou, Liu, W.L.L., and Matsunami, H. (2015). Human olfactory receptor responses to odorants. Sci data 2, 150002
    6) Ho, J. *, Perez-Aguilar, J.M. *, Gao, L. *, Saven, J.G., Matsunami, H., and Eckenhoff, R.G. (2015). Molecular recognition of ketamine by a subset of olfactory G protein-coupled receptors. Science signaling 8, ra33. (Ho, J. was a graduate student in the Matsunami lab)
    7) Jiang, Y. *, Li, Y.R. *, Tian, H., Ma, M. **, and Matsunami, H. ** (2015) Muscarinic acetylcholine receptor M3 modulates odorant receptor activity via Inhibition of β-arrestin-2 recruitment. Nat Commun 6, 6488
    8) Fukutani, Y., Hori, A., Tsukada, S., Sato, R., Ishii, J., Kondo, A., Matsunami, H., and Yohda, M. (2015). Improving the odorant sensitivity of olfactory receptor-expressing yeast with accessory proteins. Anal Biochem 471, 1-8.
    9) Dey, S., Chamero, P., Pru, J.K., Chien, M.S., Ibarra-Soria, X., Spencer, K.R., Logan, D.W., Matsunami, H., Peluso, J.J., and Stowers, L. (2015). Cyclic Regulation of Sensory Perception by a Female Hormone Alters Behavior. Cell 161, 1334-1344.
    10) de March, C.A. *, Yu, Y. *, Ni, M.J., Adipietro, K.A., Matsunami, H. **, Ma, M. **, and Golebiowski, J. ** (2015). Conserved Residues Control Activation of Mammalian G Protein-Coupled Odorant Receptors. Journal of the American Chemical Society 137, 8611-8616.
    11) Block, E. **, Jang, S. **, Matsunami, H. **, Sekharan, S., Dethier, B., Ertem, M.Z., Gundala, S., Pan, Y., Li, S., Li, Z., Lodge, S.N., Ozbil, M., Jiang, H., Penalba, S.F., Batista, V.S., and Zhuang, H. ** (2015). Implausibility of the vibrational theory of olfaction. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 112, E2766-2774. (Direct submission)
    12) Hoover, K.C., Gokcumen, O., Qureshy, Z., Bruguera, E., Savangsuksa, A., Cobb, M., and Matsunami, H. (2015). Global Survey of Variation in a Human Olfactory Receptor Gene Reveals Signatures of Non-Neutral Evolution. Chemical senses 40, 481-488
    13) Jiang, Y., Gong, N.N., Ni, M.J., Pasi, R., and Matsunami, H. (2015) Molecular profiling of activated olfactory neurons identifies odorant receptors responding to odors in vivo. Nat Neurosci 18, 1446-1454
    14) Yu, Y. *, de March, C. A. *, J. Ni, M.J., Adipietro, K.A., Golebiowski, J.**, Matsunami, H.**, and Ma, M.** (2015) Broad Responsiveness of G Protein-Coupled Odorant Receptors Is Attributed to the Activation Mechanism. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 112, 14966-14971 (Direct submission)
    15) Zhou, T. *, Chien, M.S. *, Kaleem, S., and Matsunami, H. (2016). Single cell transcriptome analysis of mouse carotid body glomus cells. The Journal of physiology.
    * equal contribution
    ** co-corresponding authors
  • Chapters in books: (2014-present)
    1) Ho, J., Matsunami, H., and Ishimaru, Y. (2014) The molecular basis of sour sensing in mammals. Molecular Genetics of Dysregulated pH Homeostasis 27-43.
    2) Sharma, R., and Matsunami, H. (2014) Mechanisms of olfaction. Bioelectronic Nose - Concepts, Specificity, Sensitivity, and Applications 23-45.
    3) Su, X., Matsunami, H., and Zhuang, H. (2014) Odorant-receptor interaction. Bioelectronic Nose - Concepts, Specificity, Sensitivity, and Applications 69-81.
    4) Dong, P.Y., Gong, N.N., and Matsunami, H. (2014) Cell-based system for identification of olfactory receptors. Bioelectronic Nose - Concepts, Specificity, Sensitivity, and Applications 83-95.

Professional awards and special recognitions (2010-present)

2012 AAAS Fellow
2013 Duke University Chancellor’s Discovery Award
2016 Duke University Langford Lectureship