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Drosophila sensory neurons tile the larval body wall, Dr. Chun Han


CVRI, Smith 352Q Box 3120
(415) 476-5544

Andy Chang

Mechanisms of oxygen and metabolic sensing

Animals require oxygen for energy generation and survival and have mechanisms for oxygen homeostasis that act on different time scales.  In mammals, a small chemosensory organ called the carotid body senses a decrease in blood oxygen to stimulate breathing within seconds.  This acute response is important for adaptation to low oxygen, and dysfunction of the carotid body contributes to diseases such as sleep apnea, hypertension, heart failure, and metabolic syndrome.  While great strides have been made in understanding carotid body physiology at the tissue and organismal levels, the basic molecular and cellular mechanisms of oxygen sensing remain elusive. 

Using a variety of biochemical, genetic/genomic, and physiological approaches in the mouse, our goal is to understand the molecular and cellular mechanisms that mediate carotid body oxygen sensing as well as development and plasticity of the carotid body under physiological and disease conditions.  Because oxygen sensing is linked to mitochondrial metabolism in the carotid body, we envision using this organ to model metabolic signaling in physiological control and to extend our molecular findings to other internal sensory signaling pathways in the body.