AUG 17, 2020 5:34 AM PDT

A New Kind of Taste Cell is Discovered

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

Once, it was thought that the tongue had zones that sensed different tastes. Researchers eventually found that taste cells (also called gustatory cells) are bundled into taste buds that detect various flavors like sweet, sour, bitter, salty, or umami. The buds, which contain different groupings, can then detect a variety of tastes. When stimulated, the nerves in taste buds send signals to the brain about the flavor of what's being eaten. These taste buds are distributed all over the tongue. Scientists have now learned more about the sensation of taste; they've discovered a new kind of cell that can detect several of the different taste stimuli. The findings have been reported in PLOS Genetics.

Image credit: Pexels

It's important for animals to be able to detect flavors; they can help organisms including people make decisions about whether something is safe to eat, might provide nutrients, or be dangerous. There are three kinds of cells that are involved in sensing flavors. Type I taste cells act to support the buds (illustrated in the image below), Type II cells can detect bitter, sweet, and umami flavors, and Type III taste cells are able to sense sour and salty flavors.

Most taste cells selectively respond to a specific stimulus type while broadly responsive cells respond to multiple taste qualities. / Credit: Jhanna Flora and Kathryn Medler

In this work, the researchers utilized mouse models that were created to study the perception of flavor. They revealed a new kind of Type III cell that responded broadly to different taste stimuli, and were able to send signals to the brain about sour tastes through one pathway, and sweet, bitter, and umami flavors through another.

"Taste cells can be either selective or generally responsive to stimuli which is similar to the cells in the brain that process taste information," commented the leader of the study Kathryn Medler of the University at Buffalo. "Future experiments will be focused on understanding how broadly responsive taste cells contribute to taste coding."

The suggestion that there are taste cells that are broadly responsive is not a new one, but this study is the first that has identified their existence. The work can help us learn more about how taste signals are sent to the brain, and it may be more complex than we appreciated.


Sources: AAAS/Eurekalert! Via PLOS, PLOS Genetics

About the Author
BS
Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on over 30 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 70 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
You May Also Like
OCT 17, 2022
Microbiology
Is it pan-resistant Candida auris? Now you can know for sure
OCT 17, 2022
Is it pan-resistant Candida auris? Now you can know for sure
Candida auris is a global concern, categorized by the CDC as an Urgent Threat level. According to the CDC's latest 2 ...
OCT 21, 2022
Coronavirus
Recognizing the Importance of SARS-CoV-2 'Accessory' Genes
OCT 21, 2022
Recognizing the Importance of SARS-CoV-2 'Accessory' Genes
The genome of the virus that causes COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, is very small. But it encodes for more than just the spike pro ...
OCT 27, 2022
Microbiology
Newly ID'ed Bacterium Has a Multicellular Form, May be a Missing Link
OCT 27, 2022
Newly ID'ed Bacterium Has a Multicellular Form, May be a Missing Link
An image by Kouhei Mizuno shows a plated colony of HS-3 bacteria, and its transparent and iridescent appearance.
NOV 06, 2022
Genetics & Genomics
The Lone Participant in a CRISPR Therapy Trial has Died
NOV 06, 2022
The Lone Participant in a CRISPR Therapy Trial has Died
In August of this year, a single patient was enrolled in a trial that used CRISPR to correct a genetic mutation that led ...
NOV 10, 2022
Neuroscience
HUSH - A Complex That Silences Genes & Helps Control Brain Architecture
NOV 10, 2022
HUSH - A Complex That Silences Genes & Helps Control Brain Architecture
The HUSH (human silencing hub) protein complex is known to silence genes, and researchers have thought that it could be ...
NOV 25, 2022
Neuroscience
Persistent Asthma Clogs Arteries to the Brain, Increases Cardiovascular Risk
NOV 25, 2022
Persistent Asthma Clogs Arteries to the Brain, Increases Cardiovascular Risk
Persistent asthma is linked to higher levels of inflammation and plaque in the arteries that deliver blood to the brain, ...
Loading Comments...