Your sense of taste doesn't end in your mouth: Cilia lining airways leading to the lungs express taste receptors and alter their undulations in the presence of bitter chemicals, says a study linkurl:published; online today (July 23)in __Science__. These cilia are linked to signaling pathways that regulate their motility, allowing epithelial tissues in airways to sense toxins or noxious compounds and help protect the lungs.
Motile cilia on airway epithelial cells

Image: SEM by Tom Moninger
"This is the first paper that shows that motile cilia can have sensory function," said Gáspár Jékely, a cell and molecular biologist at the linkurl:Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology; in Tuebingen, Germany, who was not involved in the study. "That's really quite remarkable that you have structures that move around but are also intimately tied to signaling pathways." Primary cilia -- relatively immobile cellular extensions that play important roles in sight and olfaction...
T2R receptors (red) colocalizing with
motile cilia (green)

Image: Alok Shah

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