Taste-mGluR4, cloned from taste tissues, is a truncated variant of brain-expressed mGluR4a (brain-mGluR4), and is known to be a candidate for the receptor involved in the umami taste sense. Although the expression patterns of taste- and brain-mGluR4 mRNAs have been demonstrated, no mention has so far been made of the expression of these two mGluR4 proteins in taste tissues. The present study examined the expression of taste-mGluR4 and brain-mGluR4 proteins in rat taste tissues by using a specific antibody for mGluR4a which shared a C-terminus of both taste- and brain-mGluR4, for immunoblot analysis and immunohistochemistry. Immunoblot analysis showed that both brain-mGluR4 and taste-mGluR4 were expressed in the taste tissues. Taste-mGluR4 was not detected in the cerebellum. The immunoreactive band for brain-mGluR4 protein was much stronger than that for taste-mGluR4 protein. In the cryosections of fungiform, foliate and circumvallate papillae, the antibody against taste-mGluR4 exhibited intense labeling of the taste pores and taste hairs in all the taste buds of gustatory papillae examined; the immunoreaction to the antibody against brain-mGluR4 was more intense at the same sites of the taste buds. The portions of the taste bud cells below the taste pore and surrounding keratinocytes did not show any immunoreactivities. The results of the present study strongly suggest that, in addition to taste-mGluR4, brain-mGluR4 may function even more importantly than the former as a receptor for glutamate, i.e. the umami taste sensation.
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