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Taste Receptor Family

Taste receptors are receptors that facilitate the detection of taste. Five taste qualities are known to be perceived by humans and many nonhuman mammals: sweet, umami, bitter, salty, and sour. Each of the qualities has a specific coding mechanism mediated by specialized taste receptors. By now, receptors for bitter, sweet, umami, and salty taste have been discovered. Sweet and umami tastants in humans are sensed by type 1 taste receptors (TAS1Rs), which belong to class C G protein-coupled receptors and comprise a family of three receptors: TAS1R1, TAS1R2, and TAS1R3. Type 2 taste receptors (TAS2Rs) belong to class A G-protein-coupled receptors and are responsible for bitter taste. There are 43 human TAS2Rs genes and thus there is a long list of TAS2R members. TAS1Rs and TAS2Rs are expressed in type II taste bud cells. However, expression of T1R and T2R receptors extends far beyond the tongue to organs as diverse as the brain, gut, pancreas, bladder, and testes; these have been termed “extraoral” taste receptors.

After activation of these receptors, their second messenger pathways lead to depolarization and intracellular calcium increase in taste receptor cells. Then, the transmitter is released from taste receptor cells leading to activation of taste nerve fibers and taste information is sent to the central nervous system. Here, we give an introduction of part of these human taste receptor members focusing on structure, function, signaling, polymorphism, and therapeutic potential.


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