Graduate Studies Faculty

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Eric Gouaux, Ph.D.

Senior Scientist, Vollum Institute
Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Jennifer and Bernard Lacroute Term Chair in Neuroscience Research
Admin Unit: Vollum Institute
Phone: 503-494-5535
Lab Phone: 503-494-6721
Fax: 503-494-4590
Office: Vollum Institute, Rm 1423A
Mail Code: L474
Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
Neuroscience Graduate Program
Program in Molecular & Cellular Biosciences
Research Interests:
synaptic transmission, chemical synapses, glutamate receptors, neurotransmitter transporters, ligand-gated ion channels, x-ray crystallography, membrane proteins, structural biology » Click here for more about Dr. Gouaux's research » PubMed Listing
Preceptor Rotations
Dr. Gouaux has not indicated availability for preceptor rotations at this time.
Faculty Mentorship
Dr. Gouaux has not indicated availability as a mentor at this time.



Eric Gouaux completed his B.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Chemistry at Harvard University in 1984 and 1989, respectively. He remained at Harvard for a year as a postdoctoral fellow and then continued his postdoctoral studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1993, he was appointed assistant professor at the University of Chicago Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

In 1996, Gouaux joined the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Columbia University as an assistant professor. In 2000, he was appointed Investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and associate professor with Columbia, reaching full professor the following year. Gouaux came to Oregon Health & Science University in 2005 as a Senior Scientist at the Vollum Institute and continuing his position with Howard Hughes. He joined the graduate faculty in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in 2006. In 2015, Gouaux was appointed the Jennifer and Bernard Lacroute Term Chair in Neuroscience Research.


Summary of Current Research

The work in the Gouaux Lab is concentrated on developing molecular mechanisms for the function of receptors and transporters at chemical synapses. At chemical synapses, neurotransmitters released from one neuron diffuse throughout a small space—the synaptic cleft—to receptors on adjacent neurons. At many synapses, the neurotransmitter binds to a receptor that is a ligand-gated ion channel, and this binding event leads to the opening of a transmembrane pore, which in turn results in depolarization of the nerve cell and generation of an electrical signal. Neurotransmitter transporters surrounding the synapse clear the transmitters from the cleft by coupling the thermodynamically unfavorable uptake to the favorable co-transport of one or more sodium ions.

Glutamate, glycine and the biogenic amines are neurotransmitters of particular significance and currently we are focusing our efforts on eukaryotic glutamate receptors and on bacterial homologs of the transporters for glutamate, glycine and the biogenic amines. While our primary tool is x-ray crystallography, we also utilize electrophysiology as well as other biophysical and biochemical methods.


Preprints and Selected Publications

Mansoor SE, Lü W, Oosterheert W, Shekhar M, Tajkhorshid E, Gouaux E. (2016) X-ray structures define human P2X3 receptor gating cycle and antagonist action. Nature Advance Online Publication: September 14 doi:10.1038/nature19367.

Zhao Y, Chen S, Yoshioka C, Baconguis I, Gouaux E. (2016) Architecture of fully occupied GluA2 AMPA receptor–TARP complex elucidated by cryo-EM. Nature 536:108-111.

Coleman JA, Green EM, Gouaux E. (2016) X-ray structures and mechanism of the human serotonin transporter. Nature 532:334-339.

Zhu S, Stein RA, Yoshioka C, Lee CH, Goehring A, Mchaourab HS, Gouaux E. (2016) Mechanism of NMDA receptor inhibition and activation. Cell 165:704-714.

Du J, Lü W, Wu S, Cheng Y, Gouaux E. (2015) Glycine receptor mechanism elucidated by electron cryo-microscopy. Nature 526:224-229.

Wang KH, Penmatsa A, Gouaux E. (2015) Neurotransmitter and psychostimulant recognition by the dopamine transporter. Nature 521:322-327.

Goehring A*, Lee CH*, Wang KH, Michel JC, Claxton DP, Baconguis I, Althoff T, Fischer S, Garcia KC, Gouaux E. (2014) Screening and large-scale expression of membrane proteins in mammalian cells for structural studies. Nature Protocols 9:2574-2585. (*co-first author)

Chen L, Dürr KL, Gouaux E. (2014) X-ray structures of AMPA receptor-cone snail toxin complexes illuminate activation mechanism. Science 345:1021-1026.

Althoff T, Hibbs RE, Banerjee S, Gouaux E. (2014) X-ray structures of GluCl in apo states reveal a gating mechanism of Cys-loop receptors. Nature 512:333-337.

Dürr KL*, Chen L*, Stein RA, De Zorzi R, Folea IM, Walz T, Mchaourab HS, Gouaux E. (2014) Structure and dynamics of AMPA receptor GluA2 in resting, pre-open, and desensitized states. Cell 158:778-792. (*co-first author)

Lee CH, Lü W, Michel JC, Goehring A, Du J, Song X, Gouaux E. (2014) NMDA receptor structures reveal subunit arrangement and pore architecture. Nature 511:191-197.

Baconguis I, Bohlen CJ, Goehring A, Julius D and Gouaux E. (2014) X-ray structure of acid-sensing ion channel 1–snake toxin complex reveals open state of a Na+-selective channel. Cell 156:717-729.

Wang H, Goehring A, Wang KH, Penmatsa A, Ressler R and Gouaux E. (2013) Structural basis for action by diverse antidepressants on biogenic amine transporters. Nature 503:141-145.

Penmatsa A, Wang KH, and Gouaux E. (2013) X-ray structure of dopamine transporter elucidates antidepressant mechanism. Nature 503:85-90.

Hattori M and Gouaux E. (2012) Molecular mechanism of ATP binding and ion channel activation in P2X receptors. Nature 485:207-212.

Krishnamurthy H and Gouaux E. (2012) X-ray structures of LeuT in substrate-free outward-open and apo inward-open states. Nature 481:469-474.

Hibbs RE and Gouaux E. (2011) Principles of activation and permeation in an anion-selective Cys-loop receptor. Nature 474:54-60.

Hibbs RE and Gouaux E. (2011) Principles of activation and permeation in an anion-selective Cys-loop receptor. Nature 474:54-60.