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Semin Cell Dev Biol. 2013 Mar;24(3):210-4. doi: 10.1016/j.semcdb.2012.10.004. Epub 2012 Oct 17.

Functional diversification of taste cells in vertebrates.

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  • 1Monell Chemical Senses Center, 3500 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


Tastes are senses resulting from the activation of taste cells distributed in oral epithelia. Sweet, umami, bitter, sour, and salty tastes are called the five "basic" tastes, but why five, and why these five? In this review, we dissect the peripheral gustatory system in vertebrates from molecular and cellular perspectives. Recent behavioral and molecular genetic studies have revealed the nature of functional taste receptors and cells and show that different taste qualities are accounted for by the activation of different subsets of taste cells. Based on this concept, the diversity of basic tastes should be defined by the diversity of taste cells in taste buds, which varies among species.

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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