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Chem Senses. 2014 Jul;39(6):515-28. doi: 10.1093/chemse/bju020. Epub 2014 May 20.

Salty taste deficits in CALHM1 knockout mice.

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  • 1Monell Chemical Senses Center, 3500 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA,
  • 2Monell Chemical Senses Center, 3500 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.
  • 3Litwin-Zucker Research Center for the Study of Alzheimer's Disease, Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, 350 Community Drive, Manhasset, NY 11030, USA.
  • 4Department of Physiology, University of Pennsylvania, 415 Curie Boulevard, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.
  • 5Department of Biology, Cooper Life Sciences Building, CL121, Ball State University, Muncie, IN 47306, USA and.
  • 6Center for Medical Education, IUSM-Muncie at Ball State University, 221 N. Celia Avenue, MT 201, Muncie, IN 47306, USA.


Genetic ablation of calcium homeostasis modulator 1 (CALHM1), which releases adenosine triphosphate from Type 2 taste cells, severely compromises the behavioral and electrophysiological responses to tastes detected by G protein-coupled receptors, such as sweet and bitter. However, the contribution of CALHM1 to salty taste perception is less clear. Here, we evaluated several salty taste-related phenotypes of CALHM1 knockout (KO) mice and their wild-type (WT) controls: 1) In a conditioned aversion test, CALHM1 WT and KO mice had similar NaCl avoidance thresholds. 2) In two-bottle choice tests, CALHM1 WT mice showed the classic inverted U-shaped NaCl concentration-preference function but CALHM1 KO mice had a blunted peak response. 3) In brief-access tests, CALHM1 KO mice showed less avoidance than did WT mice of high concentrations of NaCl, KCl, NH(4)Cl, and sodium lactate (NaLac). Amiloride further ameliorated the NaCl avoidance of CALHM1 KO mice, so that lick rates to a mixture of 1000 mM NaCl + 10 µM amiloride were statistically indistinguishable from those to water. 4) Relative to WT mice, CALHM1 KO mice had reduced chorda tympani nerve activity elicited by oral application of NaCl, NaLac, and sucrose but normal responses to HCl and NH(4)Cl. Chorda tympani responses to NaCl and NaLac were amiloride sensitive in WT but not KO mice. These results reinforce others demonstrating that multiple transduction pathways make complex, concentration-dependent contributions to salty taste perception. One of these pathways depends on CALHM1 to detect hypertonic NaCl in the mouth and signal the aversive taste of concentrated salt.

© The Author 2014. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail:


NaCl; gustatory electrophysiology; salt preference; salt taste

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