Bitter receptors

Authors: Prof. Dr. med. Peter Altmeyer, Prof. Dr. med. Martina Bacharach-Buhles

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Last updated on: 29.10.2020

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bitter taste receptor; hTAS2R; TAS2R bitter taste receptor

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Humans perceivebitter substances with the help of so-called bitter taste receptors(G-protein coupled hTAS2 receptors - hTAS2R - h stands for human, TAS for "taste"). Basically, bitter taste receptors are supposed to warn against the consumption of toxic substances.

General information
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The bitter receptors are encoded by bitter receptor genes located on chromosome 12. 25 human bitter receptor genes are known.
Like other taste receptors (sweet, sour, salty, umami) they are also found on the tongue. They are taste receptor cells specialized in bitter substances and are organized in the taste buds on the tongue. Bitter receptors therefore occur in different combinations in one and the same (taste) receptor cell in humans.
Although they react specifically to the different bitter compounds, they ultimately activate the same receptor cell. Thus, regardless of which individual receptor is activated, only one uniform signal is transmitted to the brain.
This special constellation leads to the fact that humans (including other mammals) recognize only one single quality as "bitter". Although he is able to distinguish the intensity of bitter, he cannot separate the different bitter substances in taste.

There is sufficient evidence for the ubiquitous presence of bitter substance receptors in the organism. They are not only distributed on the tongue as taste receptors. Rather, they seem to be integrated in a complex signal transduction system, which is involved in the control of central metabolic and immunological functional circuits via endogenous bitter substance receptors. Thus in the glucose, lipid and energy metabolism. Furthermore, corresponding bitter substance receptors influence the tone of smooth muscles (bronchial tract and urinary bladder), alter immunological reactions (in the respiratory tract or digestive tract), influence central thyroid functions and gastro-intestinal absorption. The function of bitter substance receptors in the skin has not yet been conclusively clarified, nor that of the central nervous system.

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Since the bitter substance receptors were supposed to warn against the consumption of toxic substances, it was evolutionary important to recognize as many bitter substances as possible, but not their differences.

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Incoming links (2)

Amarogentine; Bitter substances;

Outgoing links (3)

Bitter substances; G-proteins; Umami;