Profile PD Dr. Dietmar Krautwurst

Research Group Taste & Odor Systems Reception

Lise-Meitner-Str. 34
85354 Freising
Tel.: +49 8161 71-2634

Email   ORCID   

1.    What´s the context?

Due to the complexity of our sense of smell – a high-dimensional stimulus-response system with ~400 protein-coding genes – with a maximal individual genetic diversity of the odorant receptor genome, and a widespread occurrence of “specific anosmia” phenotypes, the receptor coding of food-related odorants and mixtures is not well understood, and the molecular mechanisms of both chemosensory-guided nutritional behavior and postprandial chemoreceptor-related physio­logical effects in extra-nasal tissues and cells are largely unknown.

2.    What challenge is tackled?

Clarifying (i) odorant coding at the receptor level, (ii) mechanisms of specific anosmia, and (iii) the role of extra-nasal odorant receptors.

3.    What is done?

We perform (i) large-scale high-throughput screening to assign cognate key food odorants to receptors and food-related odorant mixtures to receptor activity patterns, (ii) human studies with individuals carrying a specific anosmia to validate odorant-receptor coding in-vivo, (iii) human intervention studies to elucidate the role of chemoreceptors outside our chemical senses, and (iv) molecular genetics in a longitudinal cohort study to identify markers for childhood obesity.

4.    What has come out of your work?

We identified food-related odorants and semiochemicals as biologically relevant, best ligands for odorant receptors, clarified principles of odorant coding via narrowly and broadly tuned receptors, clarified their structure-function relations, as well as structure-activity relations of their activating odorants, and identified chemosensory receptors as markers for sub­popula­tions of leukocytes.

5.    What´s the value?

Knowledge gained on the receptor coding of food-related odorants is a prerequisite for an understanding of an individual, chemosensory phenotype-based food choice, will help to understand postprandial, chemoreceptor-related effects of food ingredients and metabolites on our cellular immune system, and will guide the development of personalized nutrition and receptor-based, cell-free sensors for food quality control.

2017 – 2020 Head of Research Group Odor Systems Reception & Biosignals, Section II Metabolic Function, Chemoreception & Biosignals at the Leibniz-Institute for Food Systems Biology at the Technical University of Munich (Leibniz-LSB@TUM).
2017 – 2019 Head of Section II Chemoreception & Biosignals, Leibniz-LSB@TUM
2010 – 2017 Head of Section Physiology, Deutsche Forschungsanstalt f. Lebensmittelchemie (DFA), Freising
2010 Habilitation at the University of Potsdam (Molecular Cell Biology) and at the TUM (Molecular Cell Physiology and Chemoreception). Lecturer at the Faculty of Chemistry of the TUM
2008 – 2010 Principal investigator at the DFA
1998 – 2008 Principal Investigator/ DFG fellow at the German Institute of Human Nutrition (DIfE), Potsdam
1994 – 1998 Post-Doc (DFG fellow and Scientist) at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute – Molecular Biology and Genetics at the Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, U.S.A.
1989 – 1994 Promotion (Dr. rer. Nat., ‚summa cum laude‘/‚with excellence‘), at the Institute for Pharmacology of the Free University of Berlin
1988 Scientist and Diploma Thesis at the Pharma¬ceu¬tical Research Department of Ciba-Geigy (Novartis), Basel, Switzerland.
1981 – 1988 Studies of Biology at the Universities of Mainz and Tübingen, Germany
  • Project leader S1 genetic engineering (Leibniz-LSB@TUM)
  • Biological Safety Officer (BBS, Chair for Crop Physiology, TUM), Biostoffverordnung
  • Leibniz-LSB@TUM contact person for Nagoya Protocol-related issues (BLE/BfN)
  • Leibniz-LSB@TUM contact person for issues related to “Handling of Security-Relevant Research” (Joint Committee of the DFG and Leopoldina)
  • Clarifying the receptor coding for key food odorants and food-typical recombinates (Bavarian project funding)
  • Clarifying the mechanisms of specific anosmia for a variety of food-related odorants
  • Clarifying the role of odorant receptors in leukocytes
  • Development of a cell-free, receptor-based system for the detection of odorants
  • Lecturer at the Technical University of Munich (2 SWS): “Chemoreception, signaling, and cellular function”; Seminar (2 hrs/semester) on “The Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) – an introduction”
  • Supervision of student internships, bachelor, master and PhD theses

(See ORCID for complete list)

Kotthoff, M., Bauer, J., Haag, F., and Krautwurst, D. (2021). Conserved C-terminal motifs in odorant receptors instruct their cell surface expression and cAMP signaling. FASEB J 35, e21274.

Di Pizio, A., Behr, J., and Krautwurst, D. (2020). Toward the Digitalization of Olfaction. In The Senses: A Comprehensive Reference (Second Edition), B. Fritzsch, ed. (Oxford: Elsevier), pp. 758-768.

Haag, F., Ahmed, L., Reiss, K., Block, E., Batista, V.S., and Krautwurst, D. (2020). Copper-mediated thiol potentiation and mutagenesis-guided modeling suggest a highly conserved copper-binding motif in human OR2M3. Cell Mol Life Sci 77, 2157-2179.

Di Pizio, A., Behrens, M., and Krautwurst, D. (2019). Beyond the Flavour: The Potential Druggability of Chemosensory G Protein-Coupled Receptors. Int J Mol Sci 20, 1402.

Geithe, C., Noe, F., Kreissl, J., and Krautwurst, D. (2017a). The Broadly Tuned Odorant Receptor OR1A1 is Highly Selective for 3-Methyl-2,4-nonanedione, a Key Food Odorant in Aged Wines, Tea, and Other Foods. Chem Senses 42, 181-193.

Geithe, C., Protze, J., Kreuchwig, F., Krause, G., and Krautwurst, D. (2017b). Structural determinants of a conserved enantiomer-selective carvone binding pocket in the human odorant receptor OR1A1. Cell Mol Life Sci 74, 4209-4229.

Noe, F., Polster, J., Geithe, C., Kotthoff, M., Schieberle, P., and Krautwurst, D. (2017). OR2M3: A Highly Specific and Narrowly Tuned Human Odorant Receptor for the Sensitive Detection of Onion Key Food Odorant 3-Mercapto-2-methylpentan-1-ol. Chem Senses 42, 195-210.

Geithe, C., Andersen, G., Malki, A., and Krautwurst, D. (2015). A Butter Aroma Recombinate Activates Human Class-I Odorant Receptors. JAFC 63, 9410-9420.

Malki, A., Fiedler, J., Fricke, K., Ballweg, I., Pfaffl, M.W., and Krautwurst, D. (2015). Class I odorant receptors, TAS1R and TAS2R taste receptors, are markers for subpopulations of circulating leukocytes. J Leukoc Biol 97, 533-545.

Dunkel, A., Steinhaus, M., Kotthoff, M., Nowak, B., Krautwurst, D., Schieberle, P., and Hofmann, T. (2014). Nature's chemical signatures in human olfaction: a foodborne perspective for future biotechnology. Angewandte Chemie (International ed in English) 53, 7124-7143.