Better taste through chemistry

Wedding genetics with genomics, two groups1,2,3 have independently identified in mammals a multigene family encoding seven-transmembrane proteins that probably represent the hitherto elusive taste receptors. Functional expression in heterologous cells confers responsiveness to bitter tastants in several cases. This discovery may lead to the design of bitter antagonists—and perhaps better butter for Betty Botter.

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Figure 1: The surface of the tongue (left) contains taste papillae of three types.

Bob Crimi

Figure 2: A bitter receptor in mouse.

Bob Crimi

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