Xuanmao Chen, Ph.D.

Xuanmao Chen, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Neurobiology

Education Background:

BSc. 1997, Nanchang University, China
MSc. 2000, Fudan University, Shanghai, China
Ph.D 2006, University of Tuebingen, Germany

Academic Training:

2007-2010, Postdoc, University of Toronto, Canada
2011-2015, Senior Fellow-Acting Instructor-Acting Assistant Professor, University of Washington

General Area of Interest and Specialty:

Primary Cilia, Ciliopathies, Brain Aging, and Ciliary cAMP Signaling


  BMCB 760 Pharmacology, BIOL 411H Introductory Biology

Current Research:

We are interested in revealing the mysteries of primary cilium. Primary cilium is a tiny, hair-like, microtubule-based organelle present in almost every vertebrate cell. The microenvironment in cilium is unique compared to most other actin-based signaling domains. It is highly sensitive to extracellular signals such as nutrients, morphogens, hormones, and mechanical stimuli. Cilium emanates from the basal body residing underneath the plasma membrane. Dismantling primary cilium is a prerequisite for the initiation of cell cycle. The primary cilium is thus considered the “keeper of the key for cell division”. Primary cilium plays crucial roles in a variety of physiological functions including cell division, development, sensory perception and energy balance. Defect of cilia lead to a broad spectrum of human diseases including polycystic kidney disease, obesity, cancer, diabetes, sensory defects and intellectual disability. In the nervous system, every neuron virtually has one primary cilium. Neuronal primary cilium is a unique type of neuronal process, locating in the cell boy but lacking synaptic structures or connections. Therefore, neuronal primary cilium mostly depends on metabotropic receptors to transmit signals downstream. A couple of GPCRs such as type 3 somatostatin receptor and type 6 serotonin receptor are highly expressed in primary cilium. Type III adenylyl cyclase (AC3) is a predominant adenylyl cyclase and enriched in neuronal primary cilium. In this regard, AC3 is a key enzyme for cAMP-mediated signaling in neuronal cilium and is a crucial element for the “antenna” to execute its functions in neuron.

We are dedicated to studying the cAMP signaling specifically in primary cilia. First, our lab aims to determine how type III adenylyl cyclase (AC3) at neuronal primary cilia affects neuronal function and examine how defects of AC3 lead to major depression and obesity. We are also interested in unraveling the contributions of primary cilia in neurodegeneration and brain aging. 

Additional Information:

We have a couple of research opportunities for undergraduates and graduates to acquire research expertise in primary cilia and skills in the field of neuroscience. We also have one open postdoctoral position to study the cAMP signaling in primary cilia. The research approaches include electrophysiology and EEG/EMG recording, mouse behavioral analysis, in vivo imaging using fiber-optic endoscope, molecular and cellular tools. We are establishing collaborations with research labs in USA, Germany, and Canada. Interested individuals (for the postdoc position) should have a Ph.D and research experience in neurobiology, and/or cell biology. Interested candidates at various levels are encouraged to contact Dr. Xuanmao Chen at Xuanmao.Chen@unh.edu


Chen X*, Luo J, Leng Y, Yang Y, Zweifel LS, Palmiter RD, and Storm DR. (2015). Ablation of Type 3 Adenylyl Cyclase in Mice Causes Reduced Neuronal Activity, Altered Sleep Pattern and Depression-related Phenotypes. Biological Psychiatry, minor revision. *Corresponding author

Challis RC, Tian H, Wang J, He J, Jiang J, Chen X, Yin W, Connelly T, Ma L, Yu CR, Pluznick JL, Storm DR, Huang L, Zhao K, Ma M.​ An Olfactory Cilia Pattern Ensures High Detection Sensitivity of the Mammalian Nose. Curr Biol. 2015 Oct 5;25(19):2503-12. 

Chen X*, Cao H, Saraf A, Zweifel LS and Storm DR* (2015) Over Expression of the Type I Adenylyl Cyclase in the Forebrain Leads to Deficit of Behavioral Inhibition. J. Neuroscience, 35(1):339-351. *Corresponding authors.

Luo J*, Chen X*, Pan JY, Lu S , Xia Z, Storm DR (2015) The Type 3 Adenylyl Cyclase Is Required for the Survival and Maturation of Newly Generated Granule Cells in the Olfactory Bulb. PLoS One: 10(3):e0122057. *Equal Contribution.

Wardlaw S, Phan TH, Saraf A, Chen X and Storm DR (2014) Genetic Disruption of the Core Circadian Clock Impairs Hippocampus-Dependent Memory. Learning and memory. 21(8):417-23.

 Xiang YY*, Chen X*, Li J, Wang S, Faclier G, Macdonald JF, Hogg JC, Orser BA, Lu WY (2013) Anesthesiology: 118(5):1065-1075. * Equal contribution.

Chen X, Xia Z and Storm DR (2012) Stimulation of Electro-Olfactogram Responses in the Main Olfactory Epithelia by Airflow Depend on the Type 3 Adenylyl Cyclase, Journal of Neuroscience. 32:15769-78.

Chen X, Whissell P, Orser BA and MacDonald JF (2011) Functional modification of acid- sensing ion channels by ligand-gated chloride channels. PLoS One 6(7): e21970.

Chen X, Li M, Xiong ZG, Orser BA, MacDonald JF and Wei L-Y (2011) Futhan can specifically target GABAA receptors in lung epithelial cells: implication in treating asthma. Int J Physiol Pathophysiol Pharmacol. 3(4):249-256.

Chen X, Qiu L, Li M, Duerrenagel S, Orser BA, Xiong ZG, and MacDonald JF (2010) Diarylamidines: high potency inhibitors of acid-sensing ion channels. Neuropharmacology. 58: 1045-53.

Chen X, Numata T, Li M, Mori Y, Orser BA, Jackson MF, Xiong ZG, MacDonald JF (2010) The modulation of TRPM7 currents by nafamostat mesilate depends directly upon extracellular concentrations of divalent cations. Molecular Brain 3:38.

Chen X, Orser BA, & MacDonald JF (2010) Design and screening of ASIC inhibitors based on diarylamidines and nafamostat, European Journal of Pharmacology 618:15-23. Review.

Chen X, Polleichtner G, Kardurin I, Grunder S (2007) Zebrafish Acid-sensing Ion Channel (ASIC) 4, Characterization of Homo- and Heteromeric Channels, and Identification of Regions Important for Activation by H+. J Biol Chem. 282(42):30406-13.

Paukert M, Chen X, Polleichtner G, Schindelin H, Grunder S (2008) Candidate amino acids involved in H+ gating of acid-sensing ion channel 1a. J Biol Chem. 283(1):572-81.

Chen X, Gründer S. (2007) Permeating protons contribute to the tachyphylaxis of Acid-Sensing Ion Channel (ASIC) 1a. Journal of Physiology 579(3):657-70

Chen X, Paukert M, Kadurin I, Pusch M, Gründer S. (2006) Strong modulation by RFamide neuropeptide of the ASIC1b/3 heteromer in competition with extracellular calcium. Neuropharmacology 50(8): 964-974.

Chen X, Kalbacher H, and Gründer S. (2006) Interaction of acid sensing ion channel (ASIC) 1 with the tarantula toxin psalmotoxin is state dependent. J. Gen. Physiol. 127(3): 267-276.

Chen X, Kalbacher H, and Gründer S (2005) The tarantula toxin psalmotoxin 1 inhibits acid-sensing ion channel (ASIC) 1a by increasing its apparent H+ affinity. J. Gen. Physiol. 126(1): 71-79.

Rudman Hall, Room 389
Durham, NH 03824
(603) 862-4542