November 7, 2012

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A Japanese macaque, Macaca fuscata, eating food. © Yosuke Otani at Primate Research Institute, Kyoto University

The molecular mechanisms of the mammalian gustatory system have been examined in many studies using rodents as model organisms. Assistant Professor Yoshiro Ishimaru and his research group at the Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences, the University of Tokyo, collaborating with the Primate Research Institute, Kyoto University, examined the mRNA expression of molecules involved in taste signal transduction in detail in the rhesus macaque, Macaca mulatta, using in situ hybridization.

As a result, taste receptors for sweet, bitter, sour, and umami (savory) compounds were exclusively expressed in different subsets of the taste receptor cells, similar to rodents. On the other hand, taste receptors were expressed in the fungiform and circumvallate papillae, which are located in the anterior and posterior regions of the tongue respectively, demonstrating differences in expression profiles between macaques and rodents . These results demonstrate that the macaque is an important model organism for taste perception in humans.

Paper information

Ishimaru, Y., Abe, M.., Asakura, T., Imai, H., and Abe, K., "Expression analysis of taste signal transduction molecules in the fungiform and circumvallate papillae of the rhesus macaque", Macaca mulatta., PLoS One Online Edition: 2012/09/22 (Japan time), doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0045426.
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