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The Taste of Carbonation

Science, 16 October 2009
Vol. 326, Issue 5951, p. 443-445
DOI: 10.1126/science.1174601

The Taste of Carbonation

  1. Jayaram Chandrashekar1,
  2. David Yarmolinsky1,
  3. Lars von Buchholtz2,
  4. Yuki Oka1,
  5. William Sly3,
  6. Nicholas J. P. Ryba2,
  7. Charles S. Zuker1,*,
  1. 1Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Departments of Neurobiology and Neurosciences, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA.
  2. 2National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.
  3. 3Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Saint Louis University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO 63104, USA.
  1. *Present address: Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics and Department of Neuroscience, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, NY 10032, USA.


Carbonated beverages are commonly available and immensely popular, but little is known about the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying the perception of carbonation in the mouth. In mammals, carbonation elicits both somatosensory and chemosensory responses, including activation of taste neurons. We have identified the cellular and molecular substrates for the taste of carbonation. By targeted genetic ablation and the silencing of synapses in defined populations of taste receptor cells, we demonstrated that the sour-sensing cells act as the taste sensors for carbonation, and showed that carbonic anhydrase 4, a glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchored enzyme, functions as the principal CO2 taste sensor. Together, these studies reveal the basis of the taste of carbonation as well as the contribution of taste cells in the orosensory response to CO2.

  • To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: cz2195{at}

  • Received for publication 6 April 2009.
  • Accepted for publication 17 August 2009.


J. Chandrashekar, D. Yarmolinsky, L. von Buchholtz, Y. Oka, W. Sly, N. J. Ryba, and C. S. Zuker, The Taste of Carbonation. Science 326, 443-445 (2009).

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