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Neuroscience. 2009 Mar 17;159(2):795-803. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2008.12.052. Epub 2009 Jan 3.

NaCl responsive taste cells in the mouse fungiform taste buds.

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Section of Oral Neuroscience, Graduate School of Dental Sciences, Kyushu University, 3-1-1 Maidashi, Higashi-ku, Fukuoka 812-8582, Fukuoka, Japan.


Previous studies have demonstrated that rodents' chorda tympani (CT) nerve fibers responding to NaCl can be classified according to their sensitivities to the epithelial sodium channel (ENaC) blocker amiloride into two groups: amiloride-sensitive (AS) and -insensitive (AI). The AS fibers were shown to respond specifically to NaCl, whereas AI fibers broadly respond to various electrolytes, including NaCl. These data suggest that salt taste transduction in taste cells may be composed of at least two different systems; AS and AI ones. To further address this issue, we investigated the responses to NaCl, KCl and HCl and the amiloride sensitivity of mouse fungiform papilla taste bud cells which are innervated by the CT nerve. Comparable with the CT data, the results indicated that 56 NaCl-responsive cells tested were classified into two groups; 25 cells ( approximately 44%) narrowly responded to NaCl and their NaCl response were inhibited by amiloride (AS cells), whereas the remaining 31 cells ( approximately 56%) responded not only to NaCl, but to KCl and/or HCl and showed no amiloride inhibition of NaCl responses (AI cells). Amiloride applied to the basolateral side of taste cells had no effect on NaCl responses in the AS and AI cells. Single cell reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) experiments indicated that ENaC subunit mRNA was expressed in a subset of AS cells. These findings suggest that the mouse fungiform taste bud is composed of AS and AI cells that can transmit taste information differently to their corresponding types of CT fibers, and apical ENaCs may be involved in the NaCl responses of AS cells.

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