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Science 310 (5753): 1495-1499

Copyright © 2005 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

ATP Signaling Is Crucial for Communication from Taste Buds to Gustatory Nerves

Thomas E. Finger,1,2 Vicktoria Danilova,3 Jennell Barrows,1,2 Dianna L. Bartel,1,2 Alison J. Vigers,1,2 Leslie Stone,1,4 Goran Hellekant,3,5 Sue C. Kinnamon1,4*

Abstract: Taste receptor cells detect chemicals in the oral cavity and transmit this information to taste nerves, but the neurotransmitter(s) have not been identified. We report that adenosine 5'-triphosphate (ATP) is the key neurotransmitter in this system. Genetic elimination of ionotropic purinergic receptors (P2X2 and P2X3) eliminates taste responses in the taste nerves, although the nerves remain responsive to touch, temperature, and menthol. Similarly, P2X-knockout mice show greatly reduced behavioral responses to sweeteners, glutamate, and bitter substances. Finally, stimulation of taste buds in vitro evokes release of ATP. Thus, ATP fulfils the criteria for a neurotransmitter linking taste buds to the nervous system.

1 Rocky Mountain Taste and Smell Center, Aurora CO 80045, USA.
2 University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora CO 80045, USA.
3 Department of Animal Health and Biomedical Science, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706, USA.
4 Department of Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA.
5 Departments of Physiology and Pharmacology, University of Minnesota, Duluth, MN 55812, USA.

* To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: sue.kinnamon{at}

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Nasal Solitary Chemoreceptor Cell Responses to Bitter and Trigeminal Stimulants In Vitro.
B. D. Gulbransen, T. R. Clapp, T. E. Finger, and S. C. Kinnamon (2008)
J Neurophysiol 99, 2929-2937
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The Candidate Sour Taste Receptor, PKD2L1, Is Expressed by Type III Taste Cells in the Mouse.
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Chem Senses 33, 243-254
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Functional Expression of M3, a Muscarinic Acetylcholine Receptor Subtype, in Taste Bud Cells of Mouse Fungiform Papillae.
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