Prof. Dr. Marc Spehr



Marc Spehr

Institute for Biology II, Deptartement Chemosensation


+49 241 80 20802



Live-Cell Imaging, Electrophysiology, Mouse Behavior, Ion Channels

The highly reproducible character of pheromone responses offers a unique opportunity to uncover the neuronal basis of genetically programmed behavior. Accordingly, research in my laboratory aims to uncover the mechanisms underlying mammalian pheromone sensing. Specifically, we focus on molecular and cellular aspects of chemosensory communication. Combining molecular, electrophysiological, and live-cell imaging methods, as well as behavioral techniques in wildtype and mutant mouse models, my research challenges existing models of olfactory signal transduction, analyzes the principle coding logic of pheromone detection, and, thus, sheds light on the neurophysiological basis of social behavior.

In parallel to the objectives described above, I pursue a line of research that addresses the (chemo)signaling mechanisms underlying spermatogenesis. My group has established an innovative toolkit to analyze the mechanistic basis of germ cell signaling and development.



Live-cell imaging (fluorescence, confocal, multi-photon, image analysis), electrophysiology (patch-clamp in both isolated cells and acute tissue slices), mouse behavior (semi-automated animal tracking, social interaction), cellular signaling cascades, GPCRs, ion channels



Generation of custom mouse models (knock-in, cluster knock-out), super-resolution microscopy (STED), viral gene transfer, in vivo imaging and electrophysiology, single cell RNAseq, molecular modeling, bioinformatics.



  1. Kaur AW, Ackels T, Kuo T-H, Cichy A, Dey S, Hays C, Kateri M, Logan DW, Marton TF, Spehr M, Stowers L (2014) Murine Pheromone Proteins Constitute a Context-Dependent Combinatorial Code Governing Multiple Social Behaviors. Cell , 157, 676–688.
  2. Ferrero DM, Moeller LM, Osakada T, Horio N, Li Q, Roy DS, Cichy A, Spehr M, Touhara K, Liberles SD (2013) A juvenile mouse pheromone inhibits sexual behavior through the vomeronasal system. Nature 502, 368-371.
  3. Fluegge D, Moeller LM, Cichy A, Gorin M, Weth A, Veitinger S, Cainarca S, Lohmer S, Corrazza S, Neuhaus EM,
    Baumgartner W, Spehr J, Spehr M (2012) Mitochondrial Ca2+ Mobilization is a key element in olfactory signaling.
    Nat. Neurosci. 15: 754-762.
  4. Veitinger S, Veitinger T, Cainarca S, Fluegge D, Engelhardt CH, Lohmer S, Hatt H, Corrazza S, Spehr J, Neuhaus EM, Spehr M (2011) Mitochondrial Ca2+ Mobilization in Purinergic Mouse Sertoli Cell Signaling. J. Physiol. 589: 5033– 5055.
  5. Rivière S, Challet L, Fluegge D, Spehr M, Rodriguez I (2009) Formyl peptide receptor-like proteins are a novel family of vomeronasal chemosensors. Nature 459: 574-577.
  6. Hagendorf S, Fluegge D, Engelhardt C, Spehr M (2009). Homeostatic control of sensory output in basal vomeronasal neurons: activity-dependent expression of ether-à-go-go-related gene potassium channels. J. Neurosci. 29: 206-221.
  7. Spehr M, Schwane K, Heilmann S, Gisselmann G, Hummel T, Hatt H (2004) Dual capacity of a human olfactory
    receptor. Current Biology 14: 832-833.
  8. Spehr M, Gisselmann G, Poplawski A, Riffell JA, Wetzel CH, Zimmer RK, Hatt H (2003) Identification of a testicular odorant receptor mediating human sperm chemotaxis. Science 299: 2054-2058.
  9. Spehr M, Wetzel CH, Hatt H, Ache BW (2002) 3-phosphoinositides modulate cyclic nucleotide signaling in olfactory receptor neurons. Neuron 33: 731-73.