Methodology and insight go together like lock and key, each useless without the other. The first three chapters in this section present novel methodology, each of which promises to increase our ability to probe the biological functions of taurine. It is a well known story how the high concentration of acetylcholine receptors in the electroplax of Torpedo californica allowed their ready isolation, which in turn yielded tremendous progress in the understanding of acetylcholine receptors in mammals, where such receptors are present only in low concentrations. The discovery of taurine receptors on the sensilla of the spiny lobster has the promise of being of equal value in taurine research. Gleeson et al. show how this enriched source of taurine receptors may be readily obtained in a few seconds without decreasing the market value of the lobster. The taurine receptor on the sensilla is exposed to the environment, where it serves as a chemoceptor for detecting taurine in sea water. This system works together with other chemoceptors on the sensilla as a means for finding food sources. The sensitivity of the receptor is extreme, taurine concentrations as low as 10−12 M producing a response. Gleeson et al. have done exquisitely nice work recording electrical responses triggered by the receptor in single neurons. An other observation illustrating the potential significance of this receptor for mammalian studies is that the structure activity requirements are the same as those found for mammalian binding sites for taurine. The authors anticipate that this model will yield valuable insight in the understanding of taurine in recognition and response systems. The capability is there. Their hope, however, will only be realized if the appropriate laboratories take the appropriate steps to involve themselves in this problem.
KeywordsFree Amino Acid Quinolinic Acid Spiny Lobster Taurine Transport Sulfinic Acid
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