Kokumi Substances, Enhancers of Basic Tastes, Induce Responses in Calcium-Sensing Receptor Expressing Taste Cells

Recently, we reported that calcium-sensing receptor (CaSR) is a receptor for kokumi substances, which enhance the intensities of salty, sweet and umami tastes. Furthermore, we found that several γ-glutamyl peptides, which are CaSR agonists, are kokumi substances. In this study, we elucidated the receptor cells for kokumi substances, and their physiological properties. For this purpose, we used Calcium Green-1 loaded mouse taste cells in lingual tissue slices and confocal microscopy. Kokumi substances, applied focally around taste pores, induced an increase in the intracellular Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]i) in a subset of taste cells. These responses were inhibited by pretreatment with the CaSR inhibitor, NPS2143. However, the kokumi substance-induced responses did not require extracellular Ca2+. CaSR-expressing taste cells are a different subset of cells from the T1R3-expressing umami or sweet taste receptor cells. These observations indicate that CaSR-expressing taste cells are the primary detectors of kokumi substances, and that they are an independent population from the influenced basic taste receptor cells, at least in the case of sweet and umami.