Relatedness of Supplement Aim to Parent Grant In the parent grant, we use cultured human taste (HBO) cells, pioneered at Monell by Co-Investigator Hakan Ozdener, to probe the metabolic sweet taste signaling pathway. HBO cells provide a useful model for probing taste signaling in culture, but they have also been shown useful for investigating the pathophysiology of certain neurotrophic viral diseases (e.g. Zika virus; see Ozdener et al., 2020). Using HBO cells to accomplish the Supplement Aim will advance our understanding of the pathogenicity of SARS-CoV-2 and other viruses that adversely affect taste and olfaction. Although many studies have reported taste and olfactory loss in individuals with COVID-19 disease, the underlying mechanisms and cellular effects in taste cells are not well understood. Due to changes in taste function in patients with COVID-19, it will be of particular interest to the parent grant to know if the subset of sweet taste cells is susceptible to infection by SARS-CoV-2.

Public Health Relevance

In this administrative supplement, we propose to determine if cultured human taste (HBO) cells used prominently in the parent grant are susceptible to human coronavirus strains, including SARS-CoV-2, thereby providing a cellular model for taste loss from COVID-19. Supplement Aim 1 through four sub-aims will (1) determine if the SARS-CoV-2 receptor (ACE2) and co-receptor (TMPRSS2) are expressed in HBO taste cells (Aim S1a); (2) investigate the kinetics of SARS-CoV-2 infection (Aim S1b); (3) assess cell viability and virus proliferation in these cells (Aim S1c); and (4) determine if particular subtypes of taste cells are targeted by SARS-CoV-2 (Aim S1d).

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
Research Project (R01)
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Sullivan, Susan L
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Monell Chemical Senses Center
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