Voltage-gated calcium channels in taste buds

Project: Research project

Project Details


DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): The peripheral end organs for gustation are
taste buds, which transduce information on the quality and concentration of
chemical taste stimuli into a coded pattern of activity in postsynaptic afferent
nerve fibers. In most neurons, transmitter release at presynaptic terminals is
dependent upon voltage-gated calcium channels (VGCCs). Some taste stimuli are
known to cause depolarization of taste cell membranes followed by Ca++ entry.
Other stimuli apparently do not lead to membrane voltage changes. The goal of
this new research program is to begin to address these critical last steps of
information processing in taste receptor cells. Specifically, we propose to
analyze voltage-gated calcium channels in taste cells. These channels are
critical for the function of most neuronal synapses but have not been examined
systematically in mammalian taste cells. The Specific Aims for the proposed
research are: 1) To determine the molecular identities of voltage gated calcium
channels present in taste buds. This aim will be carried out using reverse
transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) on a mixed population of mouse
taste buds isolated from circumvallate, foliate and fungiform papillae and the
palate. Primer pairs used will be specific for each of the 10 known calcium
channel alpha1 subunits (which form the channel pore and determine major
functional properties) and for accessory beta, gamma and alpha2-delta subunits,
all of which alter important functional properties, including sites for
modulation by second messengers. 2) To determine whether the calcium channel
types identified in Aim 1 correlate with taste specificities. We will search for
co-localization of alpha1 subunits with key proteins involved in taste
transduction. 3) To image voltage-gated calcium channel activity in taste
receptor cells and determine if channel function is subject to modulation by
second messengers relevant in taste transduction. Through these aims, we hope to
gain a novel perspective on voltage-gated calcium channels, which play critical
roles in all neuronal systems, but have been minimally studied in taste cells to
Effective start/end date4/1/023/31/05


  • National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders: $75,750.00
  • National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders: $75,750.00


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