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J Physiol. 2015 Feb 15;593(4):1021-34. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2014.284703. Epub 2015 Jan 22.

Involvement of multiple taste receptors in umami taste: analysis of gustatory nerve responses in metabotropic glutamate receptor 4 knockout mice.

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Section of Oral Neuroscience, Graduate School of Dental Sciences, Kyushu University, 3-1-1 Maidashi, Higashi-ku, Fukuoka, 812-8582, Japan; Division of Sensory Physiology, Research and Development Center for Taste and Odor Sensing, Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan.



The taste receptor T1R1 + T1R3 heterodimer and metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluR) may function as umami taste receptors. Here, we used mGluR4 knockout (mGluR4-KO) mice and examined the function of mGluR4 in peripheral taste responses of mice. The mGluR4-KO mice showed reduced responses to glutamate and L-AP4 (mGluR4 agonist) in the chorda tympani and glossopharyngeal nerves without affecting responses to other taste stimuli. Residual glutamate responses in mGluR4-KO mice were suppressed by gurmarin (T1R3 blocker) and AIDA (group I mGluR antagonist). The present study not only provided functional evidence for the involvement of mGluR4 in umami taste responses, but also suggested contributions of T1R1 + T1R3 and mGluR1 receptors in glutamate responses.


Umami taste is elicited by L-glutamate and some other amino acids and is thought to be initiated by G-protein-coupled receptors. Proposed umami receptors include heterodimers of taste receptor type 1, members 1 and 3 (T1R1 + T1R3), and metabotropic glutamate receptors 1 and 4 (mGluR1 and mGluR4). Accumulated evidences support the involvement of T1R1 + T1R3 in umami responses in mice. However, little is known about the in vivo function of mGluR in umami taste. Here, we examined taste responses of the chorda tympani (CT) and the glossopharyngeal (GL) nerves in wild-type mice and mice genetically lacking mGluR4 (mGluR4-KO). Our results indicated that compared to wild-type mice, mGluR4-KO mice showed significantly smaller gustatory nerve responses to glutamate and L-(+)-2-amino-4-phosphonobutyrate (an agonist for group III mGluR) in both the CT and GL nerves without affecting responses to other taste stimuli. Residual glutamate responses in mGluR4-KO mice were not affected by (RS)-alpha-cyclopropyl-4-phosphonophenylglycine (an antagonist for group III mGluR), but were suppressed by gurmarin (a T1R3 blocker) in the CT and (RS)-1-aminoindan-1,5-dicarboxylic acid (an antagonist for group I mGluR) in the CT and GL nerve. In wild-type mice, both quisqualic acid (an agonist for group I mGluR) and L-(+)-2-amino-4-phosphonobutyrate elicited gustatory nerve responses and these responses were suppressed by addition of (RS)-1-aminoindan-1,5-dicarboxylic acid and (RS)-alpha-cyclopropyl-4-phosphonophenylglycine, respectively. Collectively, the present study provided functional evidences for the involvement of mGluR4 in umami taste responses in mice. The results also suggest that T1R1 + T1R3 and mGluR1 are involved in umami taste responses in mice. Thus, umami taste would be mediated by multiple receptors.

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