Taste responses in mice lacking taste receptor subunit T1R1


  • Y.K. and R.Y. contributed equally to this work.

Y. Ninomiya: Section of Oral Neuroscience, Graduate School of Dental Sciences, Kyushu University, 3-1-1 Maidashi, Higashi-ku, Fukuoka 812-8582, Japan. Email: yuninom@dent.kyushu-u.ac.jp

Key points

  • • The taste receptor heterodimer T1R1 + T1R3, metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs) and/or their variants may function as umami taste receptors.
  • • Here, we used newly developed T1R1−/− mice and examined the role of T1R1 and mGluRs in taste detection.
  • • The T1R1−/− mice exhibited seriously diminished synergistic responses to glutamate and inosine monophosphate but not to glutamate alone and significantly smaller responses to sweeteners.
  • • Addition of mGluR antagonists significantly inhibited responses to glutamate in both T1R1−/− and heterozygous T1R1+/− mice.
  • • Taken together, these results suggest that T1R1 mainly contributes to umami taste synergism and partly to sweet sensitivity, while mGluRs are involved in the detection of umami compounds.

Abstract  The T1R1 receptor subunit acts as an umami taste receptor in combination with its partner, T1R3. In addition, metabotropic glutamate receptors (brain and taste variants of mGluR1 and mGluR4) are thought to function as umami taste receptors. To elucidate the function of T1R1 and the contribution of mGluRs to umami taste detection in vivo, we used newly developed knock-out (T1R1−/−) mice, which lack the entire coding region of the Tas1r1 gene and express mCherry in T1R1-expressing cells. Gustatory nerve recordings demonstrated that T1R1−/− mice exhibited a serious deficit in inosine monophosphate-elicited synergy but substantial residual responses to glutamate alone in both chorda tympani and glossopharyngeal nerves. Interestingly, chorda tympani nerve responses to sweeteners were smaller in T1R1−/− mice. Taste cell recordings demonstrated that many mCherry-expressing taste cells in T1R1+/− mice responded to sweet and umami compounds, whereas those in T1R1−/− mice responded to sweet stimuli. The proportion of sweet-responsive cells was smaller in T1R1−/− than in T1R1+/− mice. Single-cell RT-PCR demonstrated that some single mCherry-expressing cells expressed all three T1R subunits. Chorda tympani and glossopharyngeal nerve responses to glutamate were significantly inhibited by addition of mGluR antagonists in both T1R1−/− and T1R1+/− mice. Conditioned taste aversion tests demonstrated that both T1R1−/− and T1R1+/− mice were equally capable of discriminating glutamate from other basic taste stimuli. Avoidance conditioned to glutamate was significantly reduced by addition of mGluR antagonists. These results suggest that T1R1-expressing cells mainly contribute to umami taste synergism and partly to sweet sensitivity and that mGluRs are involved in the detection of umami compounds.