Recent advances in taste transduction and signaling

F1000Res. 2019 Dec 17;8:F1000 Faculty Rev-2117. doi: 10.12688/f1000research.21099.1. eCollection 2019.


In the last few years, single-cell profiling of taste cells and ganglion cells has advanced our understanding of transduction, encoding, and transmission of information from taste buds as relayed to the central nervous system. This review focuses on new knowledge from these molecular approaches and attempts to place this in the context of previous questions and findings in the field. The individual taste cells within a taste bud are molecularly specialized for detection of one of the primary taste qualities: salt, sour, sweet, umami, and bitter. Transduction and transmitter release mechanisms differ substantially for taste cells transducing sour (Type III cells) compared with those transducing the qualities of sweet, umami, or bitter (Type II cells), although ultimately all transmission of taste relies on activation of purinergic P2X receptors on the afferent nerves. The ganglion cells providing innervation to the taste buds also appear divisible into functional and molecular subtypes, and each ganglion cell is primarily but not exclusively responsive to one taste quality.

Keywords: geniculate ganglion; nervous system; purinergic transmission; serotonin; signalling; taste; taste bud; transduction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Neurons
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Taste Buds* / physiology
  • Taste* / physiology