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Cell Mol Life Sci. 2006 Sep;63(17):2000-15.

Taste perception and coding in the periphery.

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Department of Oral Physiology, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Hiroshima University, Kasumi 1-2-3, Minami-ku, Hiroshima 734-8553, Japan.


Recent identification of taste receptors and their downstream signaling molecules, expressed in taste receptor cells, led to the understanding of taste coding in the periphery. Ion channels appear to mediate detection of salty and sour taste. The sensations of sweet, umami and bitter taste are initiated by the interaction of sapid molecules with the G-protein-coupled receptors T1Rs and T2Rs. Mice lacking either PLCbeta2 or TRPM5 diminish behavioral and nerve responses to sweet, umami and bitter taste stimuli, suggesting that both receptor families converge on a common signaling pathway in the taste receptor cells. Nevertheless, separate populations of taste cells appear to be uniquely tuned to sweet, umami and bitter taste. Since PLCbeta2-deficient mice still respond to sour and salty stimuli, sour and salty taste are perceived independent of bitter, umami and sweet taste. In this review, the recent characterization of the cellular mechanisms underlying taste reception and perception, and of taste coding in the periphery will be discussed.

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