Studies conducted under this grant are directed at understanding the second messenger-gated ion channels that mediate the transduction of bitter, sweet and umami taste. These tastes are detected by G-protein-coupled taste receptors that initiate a signaling cascade for which the enzyme PLC22 and the ion channel TRPM5 are essential elements. It is hypothesized that TRPM5 is activated downstream of hydrolysis of PI(4,5)P2 to IP3 and DAG, by the release of Ca2+ from intracellular stores. Our recent results show that the TRPM5-dependent current in mouse taste receptors cells is activated by, and desensitizes in response to, intracellular Ca2+. These results raise the following questions which will be addressed in this grant application (1) Is Ca2+ the second messenger for taste transduction, coupling receptor signaling to an electrical response and transmitter release? (2) Is there a functional association of TRPM5 with elements of the Ca2+ signaling pathway? and (3) What are the biochemical or structural events that underlie desensitization of TRPM5? Together these experiments will allow us to develop a model for the contribution of TRPM5 channels to taste signaling. Taste plays an important role in determining the acceptance of foods and drugs and the ability to selectively modulate taste can therefore lead to significant health benefits.

Public Health Relevance

Taste plays an important role in determining the acceptance of foods and drugs. By understanding the signaling pathways that underlie taste sensation, what the key molecular events are, how they are organized in space, and how they change over time, we can better develop ways to modify taste to increase or decrease sensation. Moreover, information about the signaling pathways in taste cells can form the basis for understanding how taste sensation changes with development and aging or in response to disease.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Somatosensory and Chemosensory Systems Study Section (SCS)
Program Officer
Sullivan, Susan L
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of Southern California
Schools of Arts and Sciences
Los Angeles
United States
Zip Code
Liman, Emily R (2014) TRPM5. Handb Exp Pharmacol 222:489-502
Liman, Emily R; Zhang, Yali V; Montell, Craig (2014) Peripheral coding of taste. Neuron 81:984-1000
Liman, Emily R (2012) Changing senses: chemosensory signaling and primate evolution. Adv Exp Med Biol 739:206-17
Wang, Yuanyuan Y; Chang, Rui B; Allgood, Sallie D et al. (2011) A TRPA1-dependent mechanism for the pungent sensation of weak acids. J Gen Physiol 137:493-505
Liman, Emily R (2010) A TRP channel contributes to insulin secretion by pancreatic β-cells. Islets 2:331-3
Chang, Rui B; Waters, Hang; Liman, Emily R (2010) A proton current drives action potentials in genetically identified sour taste cells. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 107:22320-5
Wang, Yuanyuan Y; Chang, Rui B; Liman, Emily R (2010) TRPA1 is a component of the nociceptive response to CO2. J Neurosci 30:12958-63
Cornell, Robert A; Aarts, Michelle; Bautista, Diana et al. (2008) A double TRPtych: six views of transient receptor potential channels in disease and health. J Neurosci 28:11778-84
Liman, E R (2007) TRPM5 and taste transduction. Handb Exp Pharmacol :287-98
Young, Janet M; Waters, Hang; Dong, Cora et al. (2007) Degeneration of the olfactory guanylyl cyclase D gene during primate evolution. PLoS One 2:e884

Showing the most recent 10 out of 14 publications