Research ArticleCell Biology

Chemical synapses without synaptic vesicles: Purinergic neurotransmission through a CALHM1 channel-mitochondrial signaling complex

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Sci. Signal.  08 May 2018:
Vol. 11, Issue 529, eaao1815
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.aao1815

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Tasting with ATP

The savory taste of umami, the sweetness of sugar, and the bitterness of quinine are transduced by type II taste cells. Unlike most other receptor cells, type II taste cells release their neurotransmitter, ATP, through voltage-gated CALHM1 channels instead of neurotransmitter-containing vesicles. Romanov et al. found that the source of ATP was unusual, large mitochondria, closely opposed to clusters of CALHM1 channels within the plasma membrane of type II taste cells. This arrangement enables an alternate method of chemical neurotransmission that does not rely on vesicles.