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News Tips from the Journal of Neuroscience
Date:11/13/2007

1. Sorting Out the Bitters

Maik Behrens, Susann Foerster, Frauke Staehler, Jan-Dirk Raguse, and Wolfgang Meyerhof

The story goes that bitter taste receptors are there to protect us from toxins, which, of course, have diverse chemical structures. It has been debated whether we can discriminate between bitter-tasting compounds and thus whether we need multiple bitter receptors. Bitter taste is encoded by a family of 25 TAS2 receptors (TAS2Rs) expressed on taste receptor cells in circumvallate (CV) taste buds. This week, Behrens et al. show that human taste receptor cells differ in the expression level of TAS2R genes and in the number of cells expressing a particular TAS2R. All 25 human receptors were expressed in CV taste buds, suggesting that they act as bitter sensors. However, the number and expression level of TAS2Rs differed between human taste receptor cells. The authors estimate that an individual cell may express no more than 4 to 11 TAS2Rs, and they suggest that no two CV taste buds have the same complement of TAS2Rs.


2. Warming Up to Plasticity in the Fly

I-Feng Peng, Brett A. Berke, Yue Zhu, Wei-Hua Lee, Wenjia Chen, and Chun- Fang Wu

In this issue, Peng et al. report a cellautonomous enhancement of axonal arborization with increased environmental temperature. Using the GAL4-UAS system, the authors visualized green fluorescent protein-labeled mushroom body Kenyon cells in the Drosophila brain. Warming flies at 30C for days 2 to 7 after eclosion increased axonal branching as well as the overgrowth of nerve terminals. Similar effects were seen for embryonic neurons in vitro. The temperature-sensitive morphological changes were accompanied by changes in cell excitability and ion channel expression. As a result, spontaneous calcium transients were more frequent, particularly in growth cones. The increase in intracellular calcium was blocked by tetrodotoxin
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Contact: Sara Harris
sharris@sfn.org
202-962-4000
Society for Neuroscience
Source:Eurekalert

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