Taste buds are sensory structures made up by tightly packed, specialized epithelial cells called taste cells. Taste cells are functionally heterogeneous, and a large proportion of them fire action potentials during chemotransduction. In view of the narrow intercellular spaces within the taste bud, it is expected that the ionic composition of the extracellular fluid surrounding taste cells may be altered significantly by activity. This consideration has led to postulate the existence of glialike cells that could control the microenvironment in taste buds. However, the functional identification of such cells has been so far elusive. By using the patch-clamp technique in voltage-clamp conditions, I identified a new type of cells in the taste buds of the mouse vallate papilla. These cells represented about 30% of cells patched in taste buds and were characterized by a large leakage current. Accordingly, I named them Leaky cells. The leakage current was carried by K+, and was blocked by Ba2+ but not by tetraethylammonium (TEA). Other taste cells, such as those possessing voltage-gated Na+ currents and thought to be chemosensory in function, did not express any sizeable leakage current. Consistent with the presence of a leakage conductance, Leaky cells had a low input resistance (similar to0.25 G Omega). In addition, their zero-current (resting) potential was close to the equilibrium potential for potassium ions. The electrophysiological analysis of the membrane currents remaining after pharmacological block by Ba2+ revealed that Leaky cells also possessed a Cl- conductance. However, in resting conditions the membrane of these cells was about 60 times more permeable to K+ than to Cl-. The resting potassium conductance in Leaky cells could be involved in dissipating rapidly the increase in extracellular K+ during action potential discharge in chemosensory cells. Thus Leaky cells might represent glialike elements in taste buds. These findings support a model in which specific cells control the chemical composition of intercellular fluid in taste buds.
|Anno di pubblicazione:||2001|
|Titolo:||Mouse taste cells with glialike membrane properties|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||Articolo su rivista|
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