The study, published online July 23 in Science Express, shows that receptors for bitter compounds that are found in taste buds on the tongue also are found in hair-like protrusions on airway cells.
In addition, the scientists showed that, unlike taste cells on the tongue, these airway cells do not need help from the nervous system to translate detection of bitter taste into an action that expels the harmful substance.
The hair-like protrusions, called motile cilia, were already known to beat in a wave-like motion to sweep away mucus, bacteria and other foreign particles from the lungs.
The study is the first to show that motile cilia on airway cells not only have this "clearing" function, but also use the receptors to play a sensory role. The researchers also found that when the receptors detect bitter compounds, the cilia beat faster, suggesting that the sensing and the motion capabilities of these cellular structures are linked.
"On the tongue, bitter substances trigger taste cells to stimulate neurons, which then evoke a response -- the perception of a bitter taste. In contrast, the airway cells appear to use a different mechanism that does not require nerves," said Alok Shah, a UI graduate student and co-first author of the study. "In the airways, bitter substances both activate the receptors and elicit a response -- the increased beating of the cilia -- designed to eliminate the offending material."
Shah and co-first author Yehuda Ben-Shahar, Ph.D., an assistant professor of biology at Washington University who was a postdoctoral fellow at the UI when the study was conducted, worked in the lab of senior study author Michael Welsh, M.D. (photo, upper left), UI professor of internal medicine and molecular physiology and biophysics, who holds the Roy J. Carver Chair of Internal Medicine and Physiology and Biophysics. Welsh also is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.
"These findings suggest that we have evolved sophisticated mechanisms to guard ourselves from harmful environmental stimuli," Ben-Shahar said. "Our work also suggests that losing cilia in the lungs, due to smoking or disease, would result in a reduced general ability to detect harmful inhaled chemicals, increasing the likelihood of further damaging an injured lung."
In addition to Ben-Shahar, Shah and Welsh, the UI team included Thomas Moninger, assistant director of the UI Central Microscopy Research Facility, and Joel Kline, M.D., UI professor of internal medicine.
The study was funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health.
STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Care Media Relations, 200 Hawkins Drive, Room E110 GH, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1009
MEDIA CONTACT: Jennifer Brown, 319-356-7124, email@example.com
Jennifer Brown | EurekAlert!
New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)
Reusable carbon nanotubes could be the water filter of the future, says RIT study
30.03.2017 | Rochester Institute of Technology
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
25.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
25.04.2017 | Materials Sciences
25.04.2017 | Life Sciences