Scientists have discovered a new basic taste that the tongue can detect. The new study suggests that the tongue may be able to detect ammonium chloride as a basic taste, just like sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami.
Although researchers have known about the response of the tongue to NH4CL for decades, the new research pinpoints the receptors precisely. It is because of a protein called OTOP1, which is found within cell membranes. In addition, it forms a channel for hydrogen ions that move into the cell. It is the same receptor that picks up on acidic flavours like lemon juice and vinegar. Researchers say that the OPTP1 protein responds to ammonium chloride because it is linked with acidity.
Moreover, to confirm the hypothesis, the team made lab-grown human cells featuring the OTOP1 protein. Then they exposed them to acid and ammonium chloride. They discovered that it activated the OPTP1 receptor as effectively as acid does.
Study author Emily Liman said,