COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE

Afferent neurotransmission mediated by hemichannels in mammalian taste cells

Roman A Romanov, Olga A Rogachevskaja, Marina F Bystrova, Peihua Jiang, Robert F Margolskee, Stanislav S Kolesnikov
EMBO Journal 2007 February 7, 26 (3): 657-67
17235286
In mammalian taste buds, ionotropic P2X receptors operate in gustatory nerve endings to mediate afferent inputs. Thus, ATP secretion represents a key aspect of taste transduction. Here, we characterized individual vallate taste cells electrophysiologically and assayed their secretion of ATP with a biosensor. Among electrophysiologically distinguishable taste cells, a population was found that released ATP in a manner that was Ca(2+) independent but voltage-dependent. Data from physiological and pharmacological experiments suggested that ATP was released from taste cells via specific channels, likely to be connexin or pannexin hemichannels. A small fraction of ATP-secreting taste cells responded to bitter compounds, indicating that they express taste receptors, their G-protein-coupled and downstream transduction elements. Single cell RT-PCR revealed that ATP-secreting taste cells expressed gustducin, TRPM5, PLCbeta2, multiple connexins and pannexin 1. Altogether, our data indicate that tastant-responsive taste cells release the neurotransmitter ATP via a non-exocytotic mechanism dependent upon the generation of an action potential.

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