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

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64 Scopus citations


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 PLCβ2-mediated release of stored Ca2+. Whereas Gαgus (gustducin) couples to the T2R (bitter) receptors, which Gα-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 Gαq family (q, 11, 14) in mouse taste buds. Results: By RT-PCR, Gα14 is expressed strongly and ina taste selective manner in posterior (vallate and foliate), but not anterior (fungiform and palate) taste fields. Gαq and Gα11, although detectable, are not expressed in a taste-selective fashion. Further, expression of Gα14 mRNA is limited to Type II/Receptor cells in taste buds. Immunocytochemistry on vallate papillae using a broad Gαq family antiserum reveals specific staining only in Type II taste cells (i.e. those expressing TrpM5 and PLCβ2). This staining persists in Gαq knockout mice and immunostaining with a Gα11-specific antiserum shows no immunoreactivity in taste buds. Taken together, these data show that Gα14 is the dominant Gαq family member detected. Immunoreactivity for Gα14 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 Gα14 and both T1R2 and T1R3, the receptor combination that forms sweet taste receptors. Conclusion: Gα14 isco-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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number110
JournalBMC Neuroscience
StatePublished - Nov 13 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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