The acid-sensitive cation channel acid-sensing ion channel-2 (ASIC2) is widely believed to be a receptor for acid (sour) taste in mammals on the basis of its physiological properties and expression in rat taste bud cells. Using reverse transcriptase-PCR, we detected expression of ASIC1 and ASIC3, but not ASIC4, in mouse and rat taste buds and nonsensory lingual epithelium. Surprisingly, we did not detect mRNA for ASIC2 in mouse taste buds, although we readily observed its expression in rat taste buds. Furthermore, in Ca 2+ imaging experiments, ASIC2 knock-out mice exhibited normal physiological responses (increases in intracellular Ca2+ concentrations) to acid taste stimuli. Our results indicate that ASIC2 is not required for acid taste in mice, and that if a universal mammalian acid taste transduction mechanism exists, it likely uses other acid-sensitive receptors or ion channels.
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