Ardem Patapoutian, PhD

Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Department of Neuroscience
California Campus

Scripps Research Joint Appointments

Professor, Dorris Neuroscience Center
Faculty, Graduate Program

Research Focus

The sense of touch is unique in perceiving stimuli both physical (temperature, mechanical) and chemical (compounds that cause pain, itch, et cetera) in nature. In each modality, touch neurons distinguish noxious (painful) from innocuous stimuli, and the sensitization of touch neurons in response to injury and inflammation is the basis for many clinically-relevant chronic pain states. The molecules that mediate detection of touch stimuli have been a long-standing mystery. Our lab has identified and characterized ion channels activated by distinct changes in thermal energy (in the noxious to innocuous range), thus functioning as the molecular thermometers of our body. A subset of these same ion channels also act as polymodal chemosensors, playing an essential role in pain and inflammation. Small molecule antagonists of TRPA1, one of the ion channels identified in the Patapoutian lab, are currently in phase I clinical studies.

Mechanotransduction is perhaps the last sensory modality to be understood at the molecular level. Ion channels that sense mechanical force are postulated to play critical roles in sensing touch/pain (somatosensation), sound (hearing), sheer stress (cardiovascular tone), and more; however, the identity of such ion channels has remained elusive. We recently identified Piezo1 and Piezo2, mechanically-activated cation channels that are expressed in many mechanosensitive cell types. Current efforts focus on understanding structure-function relationships of Piezo proteins and elucidating their physiological roles in biological processes and diseases that involve mechanotransduction. We are also searching for novel ion channels involved in thermosenation and mechanosensation.


Ph.D. (Biology), California Institute of Technology, 1996
B.S. (Molecular, Cellular & Development Biology), University of California, Los Angeles, 1990

Professional Experience

Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Investigator, 2014-present
Department of Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience, Dorris Neuroscience Center, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA, 2000-present. Professor, 2008-present; Associate Professor, 2005-2008; Assistant Professor, 2000-2005
Adjunct Professor, Neuroscience program, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 2001-present
Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation, San Diego, CA, 2000-2014. Director of Discovery Research, 2006-2014; Head of Neuroscience, 2002-2005; Staff Scientist, 2000-20032013-2017 Professor, Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience (MCN), Scripps Research
2008-2012 Professor, Cell Biology, Scripps Research
2005-2008 Associate Professor, Cell Biology, Scripps Research
2002-2005 Head of Neuroscience, Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation (GNF)
2000-2005 Assistant Professor, Cell Biology, Scripps Research
1996-2000 Postdoctoral Fellow with Dr. Louis Reichardt, University of California, San Francisco

Selected References

All Publications

Syeda R, Qiu, Z, Dubin AE, Murthy SE, Florendo M, Mason DE, Mathur J, Cahalan SM, Peters EC, Montal M, Patapoutian A (2016) LRRC8 proteins form volume-regulated anion channels that sense ionic strength. Cell 164:499-511

Ranade SS, Woo SH, Dubin AE, Moshourab RA, Wetzel C, Petrus M, Mathur J, Begay V, Coste B, Mainquist J, Wilson AJ, Francisco AG, Reddy K, Qiu Z, Wood JN, Lewin GR, Patapoutian A (2014) Piezo2 is the major transducer of mechanical forces for touch sensation in mice. Nature 516:121-5

Qiu, Z, Dubin, AE, Mathur, J, Tu, B, Reddy, K, Miraglia, LJ, Reinhardt, J, Orth, AP, Patapoutian A (2014) SWELL1, a plasma membrane protein, is an essential component of volume-regulated anion channel. Cell 157:447-58

Woo, SH, Ranade, S, Weyer, AD, Dubin, AE, Baba, Y, Qiu, Z, Petrus, M, Miyamoto, T, Reddy, K, Lumpkin, EA, Stucky, CL, Patapoutian A (2014) Piezo2 is required for Merkel cell mechanotransduction. Nature 509:622-6

Coste B, Xiao B, Santos JS, Syeda R, Grandl J, Spencer KS, Kim SE, Schmidt M, Mathur J, Dubin AE, Montal M, Patapoutian A (2012) Piezos are pore-forming subunits of mechanically activated channels. Nature 483: 176-81

Kim SE, Coste B, Chadha A, Cook B, Patapoutian A (2012) The role of Drosophila Piezo in mechanical nociception Nature 483: 209-212

Coste B, Mathur J, Schmidt M, Earley TJ, Ranade S, Petrus MJ, Dubin AE, Patapoutian A (2010) Piezo1 and Piezo2 are essential components of distinct mechanically-activated cation channels. Science 330: 55-6

Macpherson LJ, Dubin AE, Evans MJ, Marr F, Schultz PG, Cravatt BF, Patapoutian A (2007) Noxious compounds activate TRPA1 ion channels through covalent modification of cysteines. Nature 445:541-5

Moqrich A, Hwang SW, Earley TJ, Petrus MJ, Murray AN, Spencer KSR, Andahazy M, Story G, Patapoutian A (2005) Impaired thermosensation in Mice Lacking TRPV3, a Heat-Sensing channel in skin. Science 307: 1468-72

Story GM, Peier AM, Reeve AJ, Eid SR, Mosbacher J, Hricik TR, Earley TJ, Hergarden AC, Andersson DA, Hwang SW, McIntyre P, Bevan S, and Patapoutian A (2003) ANKTM1, a TRP-like channel expressed in nociceptive neurons, is activated by cold temperatures. Cell 112: 819-829

Peier AM, Reeve AJ, Andersson DA, Moqrich A, Earley TJ, Hergarden AC, Story GM, Colley S, Hogenesch JB, McIntyre P, Bevan S, and Patapoutian A (2002) A novel heat-sensitive TRP channel expressed in keratinocytes Science 296: 2046-9

Peier AM, Moqrich A, Hergarden AC, Reeve AJ, Andersson DA, Story GM, Earley TJ, Dragoni I, McIntyre P, Bevan S, and Patapoutian A (2002) A Trp Channel that Senses Cold Stimuli and Menthol. Cell 108: 705-715