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Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2013;77(7):1359-62. Epub 2013 Jul 7.

Gustatory neural pathways revealed by genetic tracing from taste receptor cells.

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Monell Chemical Senses Center, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


Taste receptor cells encounter chemicals in foods and transmit this information to the gustatory neurons, which convey it further to the gustatory relay nuclei in the lower brainstem. Characterizing neurons involved in the transmission of gustatory information in the peripheral and central nervous systems helps us better understand how we perceive and discriminate tastes. However, it is difficult to anatomically identify them. Using cell-type-specific promoters/enhancers and a transneuronal tracer, we generated transgenic mice to visualize neurons in the gustatory neural pathways. We observed the tracer in the neurons of cranial sensory ganglia and the nucleus of the solitary tract in the medulla where gustatory neurons project. The tracer was also distributed in the reticular formation and several motor nuclei in the medulla that have not been recognized as gustatory ascending pathways. These transgenic mice revealed gustatory relay neurons in the known gustatory ascending pathway and an unexpected, thus presumably novel, neural circuit of gustatory system.

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