Expression of Galpha14 in sweet-transducing taste cells of the posterior tongue

Marco Tizzano, Gennady Dvoryanchikov, Jennell K Barrows, Soochong Kim, Nirupa Chaudhari, Thomas E Finger
BMC Neuroscience 2008 November 13, 9: 110

BACKGROUND: "Type II"/Receptor cells express G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) for sweet, umami (T1Rs and mGluRs) or bitter (T2Rs), as well as the proteins for downstream signalling cascades. Transduction downstream of T1Rs and T2Rs relies on G-protein and PLCbeta2-mediated release of stored Ca2+. Whereas Galphagus (gustducin) couples to the T2R (bitter) receptors, which Galpha-subunit couples to the sweet (T1R2 + T1R3) receptor is presently not known. We utilized RT-PCR, immunocytochemistry and single-cell gene expression profiling to examine the expression of the Galphaq family (q, 11, 14) in mouse taste buds.

RESULTS: By RT-PCR, Galpha14 is expressed strongly and in a taste selective manner in posterior (vallate and foliate), but not anterior (fungiform and palate) taste fields. Galphaq and Galpha11, although detectable, are not expressed in a taste-selective fashion. Further, expression of Galpha14 mRNA is limited to Type II/Receptor cells in taste buds. Immunocytochemistry on vallate papillae using a broad Galphaq family antiserum reveals specific staining only in Type II taste cells (i.e. those expressing TrpM5 and PLCbeta2). This staining persists in Galphaq knockout mice and immunostaining with a Galpha11-specific antiserum shows no immunoreactivity in taste buds. Taken together, these data show that Galpha14 is the dominant Galphaq family member detected. Immunoreactivity for Galpha14 strongly correlates with expression of T1R3, the taste receptor subunit present in taste cells responsive to either umami or sweet. Single cell gene expression profiling confirms a tight correlation between the expression of Galpha14 and both T1R2 and T1R3, the receptor combination that forms sweet taste receptors.

CONCLUSION: Galpha14 is co-expressed with the sweet taste receptor in posterior tongue, although not in anterior tongue. Thus, sweet taste transduction may rely on different downstream transduction elements in posterior and anterior taste fields.

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