Host: Jian Yang
Title: How we taste sour: function and structure of the proton channel OTOP1
Abstract: Our sensory systems endow us with the ability to detect the physio-chemical properties of our environment, a process that is determined largely by the nature of the sensory receptor molecules and the stimuli to which they are tuned. Over the last fifty years, sensory receptors have been identified for each of the major sensory systems while the receptor for the taste of acids (sour taste) remained elusive. To identify a receptor for sour taste, we performed an unbiased screen of genes enriched in sour taste receptor cells, from which we identified Otop1 as encoding a novel proton-selective ion channel (OTOP1) that conducts inward currents into cells in response to lowering extracellular pH. In Otop1-/- mice, gustatory responses to acid stimuli measured at the cellular level and in intact animals were strongly attenuated, thus establishing OTOP1 as a bonafide sour taste receptor. OTOP1 is the founding member of a family of proton-selective ion channels, conserved from nematodes to humans, with expression in a wide array of cell types, including cells in the digestive tract, adipose tissue, and vestibular system. Current work is aimed at understanding the structural basis for proton permeation and gating of OTOP channels and the contribution of OTOP channels to diverse physiological processes.
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