A typical feature of all cells is the difference in concentration of ions between the interior and exterior; this gives rise to a potential difference that can be measured by inserting a micro-electrode inside the cell and an indifferent electrode on the outside. It is this potential difference of a sensory cell that changes when an adequate stimulus is applied. The cell membrane is primarily composed of protein and lipid, with which a wide variety of chemicals can interact, and the application of some chemical species to the environment of a cell will result in a change in the transmembrane potential. It is a peculiarity of the taste cell that it is in direct contact with the outside environment, namely the oral cavity; the chemical nature of this environment changes with food intake. A large variety of chemicals can, therefore, interact with the taste cell membrane as they do with many other membranes. However, the taste cell has the added feature that such interactions lead to a partial depolarization of the cell membrane which results in the initiation of nerve impulses in the nerve with which it synapses. Thus, it appears that it is the transduction process rather than the typical initial adsorption which is peculiar to taste cells and allows them to respond to a very large variety of chemicals.
KeywordsTaste Receptor Taste Cell Taste Quality Taste Stimulus Taste Sensation
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