News of the WeekNeuroscience

Family of Bitter Taste Receptors Found

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Science  24 Mar 2000:
Vol. 287, Issue 5461, pp. 2133-2135
DOI: 10.1126/science.287.5461.2133

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For neuroscientists, bitter has been a perplexing flavor, because a wide range of unrelated chemicals all taste similarly bitter even though their diverse structures suggest that they must trigger different receptor molecules. Now, a team reports in the current issue of Cell that it has identified a huge family of receptors, each of which seems to respond to different bitter-tasting compounds. The researchers have also discovered how those various signals are apparently combined to send just one bitter message to the brain. The findings could eventually help researchers develop antidotes for bitter flavors in medicines and foods.