DNA-mediated self-assembly of taste cells and neurons for taste signal transmission

Junsu Yun, Ann Na Cho, Seung Woo Cho, Yoon Sung Nam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Cells can communicate with one another through physical connections and chemical signaling, activating various signaling pathways that can affect cellular functions and behaviors. In taste buds, taste cells transmit taste information to neurons via paracrine signaling. However, no previous studies have reported the in vitro co-culture of taste and neuronal cells, which allows us to monitor intercellular communications and better understand the mechanism of taste perception. Here, we introduce the first investigation on the proximate assembly and co-culture of taste cells and neurons to monitor the intercellular transmission of taste signals. Taste cells and neurons are placed closely using a pair of single-stranded oligonucleotides conjugated with polyethylene glycol and a phospholipid. Complementary oligonucleotide conjugates are anchored into the cellular membrane of neonatal taste cells and embryonic hippocampal neuronal cells, respectively, and then the cells are self-assembled into a functional multicellular unit for taste perception. Treatment of the assembled cells with a bitter tastant generates the sequential influx of calcium ions into the cytoplasm in taste cells and then in neuronal cells. Our work demonstrates that the cellular self-assembly is critical for efficient taste signal transduction, which can be used as a promising platform to construct cell-based biosensors for taste sensing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3388-3396
Number of pages9
JournalBiomaterials Science
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Dec

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Samsung Research Funding Center of Samsung Electronics under Project Number SRFC-IT1402-10.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 The Royal Society of Chemistry.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Materials Science(all)


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