Letter | Published:

Selective elimination of taste responses to sugars by proteolytic enzymes

Naturevolume 256pages427429 (1975) | Download Citation



INTERACTION between taste stimuli and taste receptors has been suggested as the initial event preceding the taste cell excitation, and, based on a number of biochemical investigations, the receptors are presumed to be proteinacious in nature1–3. For example, a protein which combines with sweet substances was extracted from bovine4 and rat tongues5. Direct evidence for the ability of the extracted protein to bind with sugars has come from experiments using 14C-labelled fructose and polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis or Sephadex gel filtration6,7. The presence of a sugar-binding receptor in taste buds has also been indicated by an experiment in which suspensions of papillae containing taste buds were found to bind more 14C-sucrose than those without taste buds. Furthermore this binding ability could be abolished by heating8. Therefore, if taste receptors for sweet substances are composed of a protein, the neural responses to sugars would be eliminated after digestion of the receptor protein by proteolytic enzymes. To check the above hypothesis, various proteases were applied to the rat tongue surface and impulses from the taste nerve were recorded. In addition, an alteration of the taste threshold produced by the enzymes were also examined in human subjects.

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  1. Department of Physiology, Kumamoto University Medical School, Kumamoto, Japan

    • Y. HIJI


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