Research Interests

Biochemical and Neuronal Mechanisms Mediating Olfactory Behavior

We are using a combination of genetics, biochemistry, electrophysiology, cell biology, and molecular biology to undertake a molecular dissection of the chemosensory behavior in Drosophila. This relatively simple model system allows us to correlate expression of signal transduction molecules with specific subsets of olfactory neurons so we can understand chemical information processing by the brain. The recent completion of the sequence of the entire Drosophila genome is providing abundant new molecular probes to investigate these processes. Most recently we have become interested in the molecular signaling mechanisms mediating detection and perception of volatile pheromones. A recent postdoctoral fellow, PingXi Xu, was awarded the $25,000 Eppendorf Prize in Neuroscience in 2005 for his work in this area.

Read the Dean Smith Lab diversity statement.


Ha, T.-S., Xia, R., Zhang, H., Jin, X., and Smith, D. P. (2014) A lipid flippase modulates olfactory receptor expression and odorant sensitivity in DrosophilaPNAS USA (in press).

Li, Q., Ha, T. S., Okuwa, S., Smith, D. P., Volkan, P. C. (2013) Combinatorial rules of precursor specification underlying olfactory neuron diversity. Current Biology 23: 2481-2490. PMID: 24268416.

Ronderos, D. and Smith, D. P. (2014) A farnesol-activated odorant receptor mediates oviposition behavior in Drosophila. J. Neuroscience 34: 3959-3968. PMID 24623773, PMCID:PMC3951695.

Ronderos, D. and Smith, D.P. (2009). Activation of the T1 neuronal circuit is necessary and sufficient to induce sexually dimorphic behaviors in DrosophilaJ. Neuroscience, 30(7) 2595-2599.

Ronderos, D.S. and Smith, D.P. (2009). Diverse signaling mechanisms mediate volatile odorant detection in DrosophilaFly, 3:4 1-8.

Laughlin, J.D., Ha, T.S., Jones, D.M.N., and Smith, D.P. (2008). Activation of pheromone-sensitive neurons is mediated by conformational activation of pheromone-binding proteinCell, 133: 1255-1265.

Jin, X, Ha, T.S. and Smith, D.P. (2008). SNMP is a signaling component required for pheromone sensitivity in DrosophilaPNAS USA, 105:10996-1001.

Ha, T-S and Smith D.P. (2006). A pheromone receptor mediates 11-cis vaccenyl acetate responses in Drosophila. J. Neurosci, 26:8727-8733.

Xu, P.-X., Atkinson, R., Jones, D.M.N. and Smith, D.P. (2005). Drosophila OBP LUSH is required for Activity in Pheromone-Sensitive NeuronsNeuron, 45: 193-200.

Shanbhag, S.R., Smith, D.P., and Steinbrecht, R.A. (2005). Three odorant binding proteins are co-expressed in sensilla trichodea of Drosophila melanogaster. Arthropod Structure and Development, 34: 153-165.

Liu, Q., Rand, T. A., Kalidas, S., Du, F., Kim, H.-E., Smith, D.P., Wang, X-D. (2003). R2D2, a bridge between the initiation and effector steps of the Drosophila RNAi pathwayScience, 301: 1921-1925.

Elmore, T., Ignell, R. Carlson, J.R.R. and Smith, D.P. (2003). Odorant Receptor Mutants Reveal Peripheral Coding Mechanisms in Drosophila J. Neuroscience23: 9906-9912.

Xu, P.-X. and Smith, D.P. (2003). Identification of an Atypical Odorant Binding Protein Family in the Genome of Anopheles gambiaeInsect Molecular Biology, 12: 549-560.

Kruse, S. W., Zhao, R., Smith, D.P.  and Jones, D.N.M. (2003). Structure of a specific alcohol-binding site defined by the Drosophila protein LUSHNature Structural Biology, 10: 694-700.

Kalidas, S. and Smith, D.P. (2002). Novel Genomic cDNA Hybrids Produce Effective RNA Interference in Adult DrosophilaNeuron, 33:1-8.

Shanbhag, S.R., Hekmat-Scafe, D., Kim, M. S., Park, S.K., Carlson, J.R., Pikielny, C., Smith, D.P., Steinbrecht,  R.A. (2001). Expression mosaic of Odorant-Binding Proteins in Drosophila Olfactory OrgansMicroscopy Research and Techniques, 55:297-306.

Galindo, K. and Smith, D.P. (2001). A Large Family of Divergent Odorant-Binding Proteins Expressed in Gustatory and Olfactory SensillaGenetics, 159: 1059-1072.

Elmore , T. and Smith, D.P. (2001). Putative Drosophila Odor Receptor OR43b Localizes to Dendrites of Olfactory NeuronsInsect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 31:791-798.

Coral G. Warr , Leslie B. Vosshall,  Hubert O. Amrein,  John R. Carlson,  Qian Gao,  and Dean P. Smith (2000). A Unified Nomenclature System for the Drosophila Odorant ReceptorsCell 102, 145-146.

Elmore, T., Rodrigues, A., Smith, D.P.  (1998). dRGS7 encodes a Drosophila homolog of EGL-10 and vertebrate RGS7DNA and Cell Science 17: 983-989.

Kim, M.-S., Repp, A. , Smith, D.P.  (1998). LUSH mediates chemosensory responses to alcohols in Drosophila. Genetics 150: 711-721.

Invited Reviews

Lvovskaya, S. and Smith, D. P. (2013) A spoonful of bitter helps the sugar response go down. Neuron 79: 612-614. PMID:23972590, PMCID:PMC3806211.

Sengupta, S. and Smith, D. P. (2014) How Drosophila Detect Volatile Pheromones: Signaling, Circuits and Behavior. in Neurobiology of Chemical Communication. ed. Carla Mucignat-Caretta. CRC Press.

Ha, T.S. and Smith, D.P. (2008). Smell-Gated Ion Channels. Cell 133:761-763.

Smith, D.P. (2007). Odor and pheromone detection in Drosophila melanogaster. Pfluger Arch. Eur. J. Physiol. 454: 749-785

Kalidas, S. and Smith, D.P. (2003). Functional Genomics, Fragile X Syndrome and RNA Interference. Archives of Neurology 60: 1197-1200.

Smith, D.P. (2001). Drosophila Gustation: A Question of Taste. Neuron 29, 551-554.

Smith, D.P. (1999). Drosophila Odor Receptors Revealed. Neuron 22, 201-207.

Smith, D.P. (1996). The Sweet, Sweet Smell of Diacetyl. Neuron 16, 469-471.

Smith, D.P. (1996). Olfactory Mechanisms in Drosophila melanogaster. Current Opinion in Neurobiology 6, 500-505.

Educational Background

B.S., University of Utah, 1982
M.D., University of Utah College of Medicine, 1986
Ph.D. (Biology, Neuroscience), University of California at San Diego, under Dr. Charles Zuker
PEPR fellowship, UTSW, 1993-1995
Assistant Professor, UTSW, 1996-2004
Associate Professor, UTSW, 2004-2011
Professor, UTSW, 2011-present