According to new research from the Monell Center and collaborating institutions, the sweet taste cells that respond to sugars and sweeteners on the tongue also contain digestive enzymes capable of converting sucrose (table sugar) into glucose and fructose, simple sugars that can be detected by both known sweet taste pathways. The findings increase understanding of the complex cellular mechanisms underlying sweet taste detection.
Taste cells, identified by presence of T1R (green), also contain the disaccaridase enzyme sucrase (red), which cleaves sucrose into the simple sugars glucose and fructose, which can be detected by both sugar-sensing pathways. Sucrase is preferentially localized in the apical tip of the taste cell, where it can act on sugars from ingested foods.
Credit: Karen Yee, Monell Center