HYBRID EVENT: You can participate in person at Rome, Italy or Virtually from your home or work.

5th Edition of

Chemistry World Conference

June 02-04, 2025 | Rome, Italy

Chemistry 2022

The nanoscale effects of ligand binding on the electrical properties of olfactory receptors

Speaker at Chemistry World Conference 2022 - Anna Lagunas
University of Barcelona, Spain
Title : The nanoscale effects of ligand binding on the electrical properties of olfactory receptors


Olfactory receptors (ORs) comprise the largest multigene family in the vertebrates. They belong to the class A (rhodopsin-like) family of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), which are the most abundant membrane proteins, having widespread, significant roles in signal transduction in cells, and therefore, they are a major pharmacological target. Moreover, ORs displayed high selectivity and sensitivity towards odorant detection, a characteristic that raised the interest for developing biohybrid sensors based on ORs for the detection of volatile compounds [1]. The transduction of odorant binding into cellular signaling by ORs is not well understood and knowing its mechanism would enable developing new pharmacology and high performance biohybrid electronic sensors. Recent findings suggest that ligand recognition by ORs is determined by the nanoscale alterations of charge distribution in the receptor structure [2]. However, the electrical characterization of ORs and their response towards ligand binding in bulk experiments is subjected to microscopic models and assumptions [3]. Here, we have directly determined the nanoscale electrical properties of ORs with unprecedented control over the receptor orientation, and their change upon odorant binding, using electrochemical scanning tunneling microscopy (EC-STM) in near-physiological conditions. Recordings of current versus time, distance, and electrochemical potential allows determining the OR impedance parameters and their dependence with odorant binding. The simultaneous measurement of RC equivalent by means of the open-circuit voltage (VOC) allows increasing the electrical sensitivity at the single receptor level for biosensing applications. Our results allow validating OR structural-electrostatic models and their functional activation processes


Dr. Anna Lagunas obtained her PhD in organic chemistry in 2007 from the University of Barcelona (UB). Her thesis was performed in the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB) and in the Institute of Chemical Research of Catalonia (ICIQ). She worked on nanoparticles synthesis, functionalization, and characterization for asymmetric catalysis. Following her research interests in the nanotechnology field applied to biomedicine, she joined the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC) where she is a CIBER-BBN Senior Researcher at the Nanobioengineering Group. Her research focuses on the design and fabrication of functional materials that together with high resolution techniques allow the interrogation of cells at the nanoscale, thereby revealing signatures of the spatio-temporal regulation of complex biological mechanisms. She has published more than 30 research articles in SCI(E) journals.