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Sour research, sweet results
Date:11/24/2010

lorescent protein. Then they recorded the electrical responses from just those cells to protons.

The ability to sense protons with a mechanism that does not rely on sodium has important implications for how different tastes interact, Liman speculates.

"This mechanism is very appropriate for the taste system because we can eat something that has a lot of protons and not much sodium or other ions, and the taste system will still be able to detect sour," she said. "It makes sense that nature would have built a taste cell like this, so as not to confuse salty with sour."

In the future, the research may have practical applications for cooks and the food industry.

"We're at the early stages of identifying the molecules that contribute to sour taste," Liman said. "Once we've understood the nature of the molecules that sense sour, we can start thinking about how they might be modified and how that might change the way things taste. We may also find that the number or function of these molecules changes during the course of development or during aging."


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Contact: Pamela Johnson
pjjohnso@college.usc.edu
213-740-2215
University of Southern California
Source:Eurekalert

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