News of the WeekNeuroscience

Enzyme Lets You Enjoy the Bubbly

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Science  16 Oct 2009:
Vol. 326, Issue 5951, pp. 349
DOI: 10.1126/science.326_349a

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On page 443 of this week's issue of Science, a team of neuroscientists uses methods borrowed from electrophysiology and genetic engineering to identify a class of taste-receptor cells in the tongue that respond to carbon dioxide (CO2), the gas that gives sparkling beverages their fizz. They also report that the molecular sensor used by these cells to detect CO2 is an enzyme called carbonic anhydrase 4—one member of the class of enzymes inhibited by acetazolamide, a prophylactic against altitude sickness that also causes carbonated beverages to taste flat.