Given recent changes to the recommended levels of sodium salt in processed foods initiated by the FDA, there has been a renewed interest in the mechanisms that underlie our ability to taste sodium chloride (i.e. salty taste). For decades it has been known that our ability to recognize the taste of salt was dependent at least in part (how much is still a matter of serious contention!) through influx of sodium ions through epithelial amiloride-sensitive sodium channels (ENaC). Despite a role in salty taste, it has also been clear that there are additional mechanisms beyond the well-described ENaC-based mechanism. While we have had a history in this area, we have recently begun to explore again the mechanisms that the taste system uses to recognize dietary sodium with a goal of identifying the (major?) receptor for salt and osmotic sensing in our taste buds. Our earlier work on aquaporins in taste paints a picture that the taste system plays an important role in the restoration and regulation of salt and water balance in the body.
This project is funded by PepsiCo Global Research & Development and Almendra Americas, LLC