The taste system of animals is used to detect valuable nutrients and harmful compounds in foods. In humans and mice, sweet, bitter, salty, sour and umami tastes are considered the five basic taste qualities. Sweet and umami tastes are mediated by G-proteincoupled receptors, belonging to the T1R (taste receptor type 1) family. This family consists of three members (T1R1, T1R2 and T1R3). They function as sweet or umami taste receptors by forming heterodimeric complexes, T1R1 + T1R3 (umami) or T1R2 + T1R3 (sweet). Receptors for each of the basic tastes are thought to be expressed exclusively in taste bud cells. Sweet (T1R2 + T1R3-expressing) taste cells were thought to be segregated from umami (T1R1 + T1R3-expressing) taste cells in taste buds. However, recent studies have revealed that a significant portion of taste cells in mice expressed all T1R subunits and responded to both sweet and umami compounds. This suggests that sweet and umami taste cells may not be segregated. Mice are able to discriminate between sweet and umami tastes, and both tastes contribute to behavioural preferences for sweet or umami compounds. There is growing evidence that T1R3 is also involved in behavioural avoidance of calcium tastes in mice, which implies that there may be a further population of T1Rexpressing taste cells that mediate aversion to calcium taste. Therefore the simple view of detection and segregation of sweet and umami tastes by T1R-expressing taste cells, in mice, is now open to re-examination.
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