The unique taste induced by monosodium glutamate is referred to as umami taste. The umami taste is also elicited by the purine nucleotides inosine 5′-monophosphate and guanosine 5′-monophosphate. There is evidence that a heterodimeric G protein-coupled receptor, which consists of the T1R1 (taste receptor type 1, member 1, Tas1r1) and the T1R3 (taste receptor type 1, member 3, Tas1r3) proteins, functions as an umami taste receptor for rodents and humans. Splice variants of metabotropic glutamate receptors, mGluR1 (glutamate receptor, metabotropic 1, Grm1) and mGluR4 (glutamate receptor, metabotropic 4, Grm4), also have been proposed as taste receptors for glutamate. The taste sensitivity to umami substances varies in inbred mouse strains and in individual humans. However, little is known about the relation of umami taste sensitivity to variations in candidate umami receptor genes in rodents or in humans. In this article, we summarize current knowledge of the diversity of umami perception in mice and humans. Furthermore, we combine previously published data and new information from the single nucleotide polymorphism databases regarding variation in the mouse and human candidate umami receptor genes: mouse Tas1r1 (TAS1R1 for human), mouse Tas1r3 (TAS1R3 for human), mouse Grm1 (GRM1 for human), and mouse Grm4 (GRM4 for human). Finally, we discuss prospective associations between variation of these genes and umami taste perception in both species.
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