Extraoral bitter taste receptors in health and disease

Journal of General Physiology, February 2017

Ping Lu et al.


Bitter taste receptors (TAS2Rs or T2Rs) belong to the superfamily of seven-transmembrane G protein–coupled receptors, which are the targets of >50% of drugs currently on the market. Canonically, T2Rs are located in taste buds of the tongue, where they initiate bitter taste perception. However, accumulating evidence indicates that T2Rs are widely expressed throughout the body and mediate diverse nontasting roles through various specialized mechanisms. It has also become apparent that T2Rs and their polymorphisms are associated with human disorders. In this review, we summarize the physiological and pathophysiological roles that extraoral T2Rs play in processes as diverse as innate immunity and reproduction, and the major challenges in this emerging field.

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"...Cumulative evidence indicates that T2Rs mediate a variety of functions in nonlingual tissues and may underlie several human diseases or disorders. Targeting of T2Rs in extraoral tissues is showing promise for the development of new therapeutics. The wide expression of extraoral T2Rs underscores the possibility that they might be accountable for the many side effects of current medicines because most drugs have a bitter taste."

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