• Ph.D., University of California, Santa Barbara., 1977
  • University of British Columbia, NIH Postdoctoral Fellow, 77-79
  • University of Iowa, Visiting Assistant Professor, 79-80
  • University of Vermont, Assistant Professor 80-86, Associate Professor 86-92, Professor 92-present,

   VT EPSCoR Director
   VGN Director

Research Description

My interests center on chemoreception using Paramecium, a single-celled animal, as a model. These cells are like little swimming neurons and, like our neurons that detect odors or tastes, they respond to stimuli by membrane electrical changes.

We approach sensing of chemical stimuli on several levels:

  • membrane biochemistry to identify receptors and ‘signal transduction’ components that turn a chemical stimulus signal into anelectrical one;
  • molecular genetics to clone genes for receptors and other proteins in chemoreception and to make predictable changes in the gene and protein sequences;
  • measurements of calcium and calcium metabolism by fluorescence and isotopic methods;
  • measurements of internal, second messengers such as cyclic nucleotides;
  • electrophysiology to characterize membrane electrical changes;
  • motion analysis to digitize normal and mutant swimming.

We are extending our expertise in plasma membrane calcium pumps (PMCAs) to mouse olfactory neurons. We have found 4 PMCAs in mouse olfactory neurons, and loss of PMCAs in knockout animals (courtesy of G. Shull) slows calcium clearance after stimulation.


Highlighted Publications

Van Houten, J. L., Valentine, M, and Yano, J. (2010) Behavioral Genetics of Paramecium. In: Encyclopedia of Animal Behavior, Ross Crozier, ed.,pp. 677-682, Oxford: Academic Press.

John F. O’Toole et al., Individuals with mutations in XPNPEP3, which encodes a mitochondrial protein, develop a nephronophthisis-like nephropathy J. Clinical (2010). doi:10.1172/JCI40076.

S. Ponissery Saidu, SD. Weeraratne, M. Valentine, R. Delay and Judith L. Van Houten (2009) Role of Plasma Membrane Calcium ATPases in Calcium Clearance from Olfactory Sensory Neurons, Chemical Senses 2009; doi: 10.1093/chemse/bjp008. (PDF)

Bell, W.E. and J.L. Van Houten (2008) Chemical Sense: Protozoa. In: Larry R. Squire, Editor-in-Chief, Encyclopedia of Neuroscience, Academic Press, Oxford, 2008, pp. 813-818 .

Wade E. Bell, Robin R. Preston, Junji Yano and Judith L. Van Houten (2007) Genetic dissection of attractant-induced conductances in Paramecium, The Journal of Experimental Biology 210, 357-365. (PDF)

Valentine, M., Yano, J. and Van Houten, J.L. (2008) Chemosensory Transduction in Paramecium. Jpn. Journal of Protozoology. 41: 1 – 8.

S. Dilhan Weeraratne, Megan Valentine, Matthew Cusick, Rona Delay and Judith L. Van Houten (2006) Plasma Membrane Calcium Pumps in Mouse Olfactory Sensory Neurons,Chemical Senses Advance Access published on July 19, 2006. (PDF)

View all Van Houten publications here.

* indicates equal contribution

Recent Publications

Kleene SJ, Van Houten JL (2014) Electrical Signaling in Motile and Primary Cilia. Bioscience 64(12): 1092-1102.

Yano J, Rajendran A, Valentine MS, Saha M, Ballif BA, Van Houten JL (2013) Proteomic analysis of the cilia membrane of Paramecium tetraurelia. J Proteomics 78: 113-22.

Saidu SP, Weeraratne SD, Valentine M, Delay R, Van Houten JL (2009) Role of plasma membrane calcium ATPases in calcium clearance from olfactory sensory neurons. Chem Senses 34(4): 349-58.

Weeraratne SD, Valentine M, Cusick M, Delay R, Van Houten JL (2006) Plasma membrane calcium pumps in mouse olfactory sensory neurons. Chem Senses 31(8): 725-30.

Yano J, Rachochy V, Van Houten JL (2003) Glycosyl phosphatidylinositol-anchored proteins in chemosensory signaling: antisense manipulation of Paramecium tetraurelia PIG-A gene expression. Eukaryot Cell 2(6): 1211-9.

Paquette CA, Rakochy V, Bush A, Van Houten JL (2001) Glycophosphatidylinositol-anchored proteins in Paramecium tetraurelia: possible role in chemoresponse. J Exp Biol 204(Pt 16): 2899-910.

Van Houten JL, Yang WQ, Bergeron A (2000) Chemosensory signal transduction in paramecium. J Nutr 130(4S Suppl): 946S-9S.

View all Van Houten publications here.

Selected Awards

Graduated summa cum laude Pacific Lutheran University (1972)

George H. Perkins Professor (reappointed 2002-2007)

Claude Pepper Award (1990-1997)

Manheimer Award for Career Achievements in Chemosensory Sciences (1996)

University Scholar (1991-1992)

Judy Van Houten, Ph.D.

Van Houten, Ph.D.

Department of Biology


Office: 215 Marsh Life Science
Lab: 224 Marsh Life Science

Upcoming Events

  • 6/30/2015 11:30 AM – 12:00 PM
    Davis Auditorium
    Miranda Redmond
  • 6/30/2015 12:00 PM – 12:30 PM
    Davis Auditorium
    Jessica Sheehe
  • 7/7/2015 11:30 AM – 12:00 PM
    Davis Auditorium
    Laura Solomon

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