Physiology and Oral Physiology

Prof. Makoto Sugita

【Research Keyword】
taste, salivary secretion, cystic fibrosis

【Recent highlights】
We visualized the taste neuronal circuitries for bitter and sweet using genetic tracing to understand how taste recognition is accomplished in the brain, and then combined the genetic tracing with electrophysiological and immunohistochemical analyses to functionally characterize the taste-relaying neurons in the brainstem. We employed gramicidin-perforated patch recording that enables a time-resolved determination of rate-limiting activities for anion secretion to clarify the regulatory mechanisms of fluid transport in the salivary glands.

Profiles of Faculty and Research Scholars

Students study the homeostasis mechanisms of a human body as to how the different molecules, cells, tissues, and organs in the body work together to maintain the life. The aim is to understand abnormal functions in disease. The primary emphasis of the course is to study the sensory and motor systems in the oral and maxillofacial regions.

Our laboratory aims to understand the molecular, cellular, and systems-level mechanisms of how sweet and bitter taste information is processed in the brain, and translated into binary responses of behavior and emotion, e.g., attraction versus aversion or pleasure versus displeasure. Additionally, we research the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying ion and fluid transport in the salivary glands; and the role of cell communication in proliferation and differentiation of salivary glands and taste organs. We further address how the disease-causing mutations in ion channels and transporters affect the functions of epithelial cells in order to rationally develop therapeutic means to treat the altered function.

【Photo explanation】 Taste receptor cells expressing GFP-tagged taste receptors and DsRed-tagged tracers

【Figure explanation】 The mechanism of anion secretion in salivary gland cells