Genetic labeling of Tas1r1 and Tas2r131 taste receptor cells in mice

Chem Senses. 2012 Nov;37(9):897-911. doi: 10.1093/chemse/bjs082. Epub 2012 Sep 25.


Characterization of the peripheral taste system relies on the identification and visualization of the different taste bud cell types. So far, genetic strategies to label taste receptor cells are limited to sweet, sour, and salty detecting cells. To visualize Tas1r1 umami and Tas2r131 bitter sensing cells, we generated animals in which the Tas1r1 and Tas2r131 open reading frames are replaced by expression cassettes containing the fluorescent proteins mCherry or hrGFP, respectively. These animals enabled us to visualize and quantify the entire oral Tas1r1 and Tas2r131 cell populations. Tas1r1-mCherry cells were predominantly detected in fungiform papillae, whereas Tas2r131-hrGFP cells, which are ~4-fold more abundant, were mainly present in foliate and vallate papillae. In the palate, both cell types were similarly distributed. Mice carrying both recombinant alleles demonstrated completely segregated Tas1r1 and Tas2r131 cell populations. Only ~50% of the entire bitter cell population expressed hrGFP, indicating that bitter taste receptor cells express a subset of the bitter receptor repertoire. In extragustatory tissues, mCherry fluorescence was observed in testis and hrGFP fluorescence in testis, thymus, vomeronasal organ, and respiratory epithelium, suggesting that only few extraoral sites express Tas2r131 and Tas1r1 receptors at levels comparable to taste tissue.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Animals
  • Gene Knock-In Techniques
  • Genetic Vectors / genetics
  • Genetic Vectors / metabolism
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence
  • Luminescent Proteins / genetics
  • Luminescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Open Reading Frames
  • Palate / metabolism
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / genetics*
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism
  • Taste Buds / metabolism


  • Luminescent Proteins
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Tas2r131 protein, mouse
  • red fluorescent protein
  • taste receptors, type 1