Identification of electrophysiologically distinct subpopulations of rat taste cells

Myles Akabas, Jane Dodd, Qais Al-Awqati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


The gustatory sensory system provides animals with a rapid chemical analysis of a potential food substance providing information necessary to facilitate ingestion or rejection of the food. The process of gustatory transduction is initiated in the taste cells in the lingual epithelium. However, due to the small size, scarcity of the cells and their location, embedded in a keratinized squamous epithelium, it has been difficult to study the primary events in the transduction process. Recently, we have developed a preparation of dissociated rat taste cells that permits studies of the taste transduction process in single isolated cells. We have now investigated the electrophysiological properties of the rat taste cells using the patch-clamp technique. We have identified two populations of cells within the taste bud: one expressing a voltage-dependent potassium current and the second containing both voltage-dependent sodium and potassium currents. The potassium current in both cell groups is blocked by external TEA, Ba2+, and quinine. Two types of K+ channels have been identified: a 90-pS delayed rectifier K+ channel and a "maxi" calcium-activated K+ channel. The sodium current is blocked by TTX, but not by amiloride.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)71-78
Number of pages8
JournalThe Journal of Membrane Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1990
Externally publishedYes


  • gustatory transduction
  • ion channels
  • patch clamp
  • physiology
  • potassium channels
  • taste

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Physiology
  • Cell Biology


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