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van Giesen, L., Kilian, P.B., Allard, C.A. and Bellono, N.W., 2020. Molecular basis of chemotactile sensation in octopus. Cell, 183(3), pp.594-604.

Here, we report that octopus arms use a family of cephalopod-specific chemotactile receptors (CRs) to detect poorly soluble natural products, thereby defining a form of contact-dependent, aquatic chemosensation.


Weir, K., Dupre, C., van Giesen, L., Lee, A.S. and Bellono, N.W., 2020. A molecular filter for the cnidarian stinging response. Elife, 9, p.e57578.

Here, we show that nematocytes from Nematostella vectensis use a specialized voltage-gated calcium channel (nCaV) to distinguish salient sensory cues and control the explosive discharge response.


Redhai, S., Pilgrim, C., Gaspar, P., Giesen, L.V., Lopes, T., Riabinina, O., Grenier, T., Milona, A., Chanana, B., Swadling, J.B. and Wang, Y.F., 2020. An intestinal zinc sensor regulates food intake and developmental growth. Nature, 580(7802), pp.263-268.

Here we use a genetic screen in Drosophila melanogaster to identify Hodor, an ionotropic receptor in enterocytes that sustains larval development, particularly in nutrient-scarce conditions.


Bellono, N.W., Leitch, D.B. and Julius, D., 2018. Molecular tuning of electroreception in sharks and skates. Nature, 558(7708), pp.122-126.

Here we analyse shark and skate electrosensory cells to determine whether discrete physiological properties could contribute to behaviourally relevant sensory tuning.


Bellono, N.W., Bayrer, J.R., Leitch, D.B., Castro, J., Zhang, C., O’Donnell, T.A., Brierley, S.M., Ingraham, H.A. and Julius, D., 2017. Enterochromaffin cells are gut chemosensors that couple to sensory neural pathways. Cell, 170(1), pp.185-198.

We show that EC cells express specific chemosensory receptors, are electrically excitable, and modulate serotonin-sensitive primary afferent nerve fibers via synaptic connections, enabling them to detect and transduce environmental, metabolic, and homeostatic information from the gut directly to the nervous system.


Bellono, N.W., Leitch, D.B. and Julius, D., 2017. Molecular basis of ancestral vertebrate electroreception. Nature, 543(7645), pp.391-396.

 Here we show that the voltage-gated calcium channel CaV1.3 and the big conductance calcium-activated potassium (BK) channel are preferentially expressed by electrosensory cells in little skate (Leucoraja erinacea) and functionally couple to mediate electrosensory cell membrane voltage oscillations, which are important for the detection of specific, weak electrical signals.


Bellono, N.W., Escobar, I.E. and Oancea, E., 2016. A melanosomal two-pore sodium channel regulates pigmentation. Scientific reports, 6(1), pp.1-11.

Here we identify two-pore channel 2 (TPC2) as the first reported melanosomal cation conductance by directly patch-clamping skin and eye melanosomes.


Bellono, N.W., Escobar, I.E., Lefkovith, A.J., Marks, M.S. and Oancea, E., 2014. An intracellular anion channel critical for pigmentation. Elife, 3, p.e04543.

Here we used direct patch-clamp of skin and eye melanosomes to identify a novel chloride-selective anion conductance mediated by OCA2 and required for melanin production.


Chirila, A.M., Brown, T.E., Bishop, R.A., Bellono, N.W., Pucci, F.G. and Kauer, J.A., 2014. Long-term potentiation of glycinergic synapses triggered by interleukin 1β. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(22), pp.8263-8268.

Here we provide the first evidence of long-term potentiation (LTP) at mammalian glycinergic synapses.


Bellono, N.W. and Oancea, E.V., 2014. Ion transport in pigmentation. Archives of biochemistry and biophysics, 563, pp.35-41.

In this review we first discuss ion channels and transporters that function at the plasma membrane of melanocytes; in the second part we consider ion transport across the membrane of intracellular organelles, with emphasis on melanosomes. We discuss recently characterized lysosomal and endosomal ion channels and transporters associated with pigmentation phenotypes. We then review the evidence for melanosomal channels and transporters critical for pigmentation, discussing potential molecular mechanisms mediating their function.


Bellono, N.W., Najera, J.A. and Oancea, E., 2014. UV light activates a Gαq/11-coupled phototransduction pathway in human melanocytes. Journal of General Physiology, 143(2), pp.203-214.

Here, we investigated the identity of the G protein and downstream elements of the signaling cascade and found that UVR phototransduction is Gαq/11 dependent.


Bellono, N.W. and Oancea, E., 2013. UV light phototransduction depolarizes human melanocytes. Channels, 7(4), pp.243-248.

Here we report that physiological doses of solar-like UVR elicit a retinal-dependent membrane depolarization in human epidermal melanocytes.


Bellono, N.W., Kammel, L.G., Zimmerman, A.L. and Oancea, E., 2013. UV light phototransduction activates transient receptor potential A1 ion channels in human melanocytes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110(6), pp.2383-2388.

Here we report that in human epidermal melanocytes physiological doses of UVR activate a retinal-dependent current mediated by transient receptor potential A1 (TRPA1) ion channels.

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