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Handb Exp Pharmacol. 2007;(179):287-98.

TRPM5 and taste transduction.

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  • 1University of Southern California, 3641 Watt Way, Los Angeles, CA 90089, USA.


TRPM5 is a cation channel that it is essential for transduction of bitter, sweet and umami tastes. Signaling of these tastes involves the activation of G protein-coupled receptors that stimulate phospholipase C (PLC) beta2, leading to the breakdown of phosphatidylinositol bisphosphate (PIP2) into diacylglycerol (DAG) and inositol trisphosphate (IP3), and release of Ca2+ from intracellular stores. TRPM5 forms a nonselective cation channel that is directly activated by Ca2+ and it is likely to be the downstream target of this signaling cascade. Therefore, study of TRPM5 promises to provide insight into fundamental mechanisms of taste transduction. This review highlights recent work on the mechanisms of activation of the TRPM5 channel. The mouse TRPM5 gene encodes a protein of 1,158 amino acids that is proposed to have six transmembrane domains and to function as a tetramer. TRPM5 is structurally most closely related to the Ca(2+)-activated channel TRPM4 and it is more distantly related to the cold-activated channel TRPM8. In patch clamp recordings, TRPM5 channels are activated by micromolar concentrations of Ca2+ and are permeable to monovalent but not divalent cations. TRPM5 channel activity is strongly regulated by voltage, phosphoinositides and temperature, and is blocked by acid pH. Study of TRPM4 and TRPM8, which show similar modes of regulation, has yielded insights into possible structural domains of TRPM5. Understanding the structural basis for TRPM5 function will ultimately allow the design of pharmaceuticals to enhance or interfere with taste sensations.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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