Agriculture
Watching out for vultures
Treating peanut allergy bit by bit
Getting the dirt on carbon
Amphibians
Salamanders
Salamanders and Newts
Toads
Animals
Little Beetle, Big Horns
Cacophony Acoustics
Monkeys Count
Behavior
Listening to Birdsong
The Smell of Trust
Why Cats Nap and Whales Snooze
Birds
Storks
Lovebirds
Dodos
Chemistry and Materials
The newest superheavy in town
These gems make their own way
The hottest soup in New York
Computers
The Shape of the Internet
Seen on the Science Fair Scene
The Earth-bound asteroid scientists saw coming
Dinosaurs and Fossils
South America's sticky tar pits
Early Birds Ready to Rumble
Fossil Fly from Antarctica
E Learning Jamaica
E Learning in Jamaica WIN PRIZES and try our Fun Animated Games
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
Results of GSAT are in schools this week
Earth
Ice Age Melting and Rising Seas
Pollution at the ends of the Earth
Earth's Poles in Peril
Environment
Antarctica warms, which threatens penguins
City Trees Beat Country Trees
The Best Defense Is a Good Snow Fence
Finding the Past
The Puzzle of Ancient Mariners
Unearthing Ancient Astronomy
If Only Bones Could Speak
Fish
Cleaning Up Fish Farms
Electric Catfish
Perches
Food and Nutrition
Food for Life
Chocolate Rules
Moving Good Fats from Fish to Mice
GSAT English Rules
Finding Subjects and Verbs
Adjectives and Adverbs
Who vs. Whom
GSAT Exam Preparation Jamaica
GSAT stars reap scholarship glory
How are students placed after passing the GSAT exam
GSAT Practice Papers | GSAT Mathematics | Maths
GSAT Exams Jamaica Scholarships
GSAT Practice Papers | GSAT Mathematics | Maths
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
GSAT stars reap scholarship glory
GSAT Mathematics
Secrets of an Ancient Computer
Math is a real brain bender
Math and our number sense: PassGSAT.com
Human Body
Taking the sting out of scorpion venom
Cell Phone Tattlers
Electricity's Spark of Life
Invertebrates
Bedbugs
Nautiluses
Starfish
Mammals
Dachshunds
Pugs
Lynxes
Parents
Raise a Lifelong Reader by Reading Aloud
Choosing a Preschool: What to Consider
Children and Media
Physics
IceCube Science
Speedy stars
Invisibility Ring
Plants
City Trees Beat Country Trees
Bright Blooms That Glow
White fuzzy mold not as friendly as it looks
Reptiles
Chameleons
Cobras
Lizards
Space and Astronomy
Galaxies Divide Sharply Along Color Lines
Saturn's Spongy Moon
Ready, Set, Supernova
Technology and Engineering
Switchable Lenses Improve Vision
Reach for the Sky
A Micro-Dose of Your Own Medicine
The Parts of Speech
What is a Noun
Countable and Uncountable Nouns
Pronouns
Transportation
How to Fly Like a Bat
Charged cars that would charge
Reach for the Sky
Weather
Arctic Melt
Antarctica warms, which threatens penguins
Either Martians or Mars has gas
Add your Article

A Sour Taste in Your Mouth

Think of all the amazing things that your tongue does for you. Specialized cells on your tongue, for example, give you the power to enjoy (and gag at) the spices and other flavors of the world’s cuisines.

For years, scientists have been investigating the cells that allow us to detect five distinct tastes: salty, sweet, bitter, sour, and umami. Umami describes the taste of a substance called monosodium glutamate (MSG). So far, sweet, bitter, and umami are pretty well understood. The other two have remained mysterious.

Now, at long last, researchers may have discovered the secret behind the puckering flavor of lemons, vinegar, and sour gummy candy. One protein, called PKD2L1, might do the trick.

To decode the sour system, the scientists started by assuming that sour-sensing proteins would share basic traits with proteins that allow us to sense other tastes. In general, these molecules, called receptors, are embedded inside certain tongue cells.

Also, each tongue cell contains a receptor that senses just one type of flavor. One cell might have a sweet receptor, for instance, while another cell responds only to bitter flavors.

The scientists zeroed in on PKD2L1. This protein caught their eye because it appeared to be a specialized protein in taste bud cells. At the same time, it did not show up in cells that sensed sweet, bitter, or umami flavors.

The researchers then created a strain of mice that did not make the PKD2L1 protein. Tests of the animals’ nerves showed that the mice continued to respond to all flavors except sour ones. When the scientists gave them sour chemicals, such as citric acid or vinegar, nothing happened.

The mice “were completely insensitive, just like we were dabbing their tongues with water,” says research-team leader Charles S. Zuker of the University of California, San Diego.

The discovery may eventually help chemists make foods more or less sour, from the inside out.

Here’s what I’d like to know next: Why do some people like to eat sour candy? I’m not a fan, and I never will be, but I know people who love it. The mysteries of science never cease to amaze me!—E. Sohn

A Sour Taste in Your Mouth
A Sour Taste in Your Mouth








Designed and Powered by HBJamaica.com™