Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Understanding how humans perceive bitter tastes

 Scientists from the UNC School of Medicine wanted to understand how humans perceive bitter tastes, starting with understanding the specific taste receptor. TAS2R14 is the bitter taste receptor which is a part of a bigger family of bitter taste receptors, the G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) family. However, this specific receptor stands out because of its ability to identify 100 different bitter substances. Findings from the research concluded that when bitter tastants encounter the taste receptor, the chemicals wedge themselves to allosteric sites, which causes the protein to change shape and activates the G protein. The receptor being active sends signals to tiny nerve fibers in the gustatory cortex, where the bitterness is perceived. Researchers also found that cholesterol also helps bitterness tastes be perceived. Cholesterol puts the TAS2R14 receptor into a semi-active state so the tastant can easily activate it. The article explains, "While the exact role if bile acid or cholesterol in TAS2R14 remains unknown, it may play a role in the metabolism of these substances or in relation to metabolic disorders such as obesity or diabetes" (ScienceDaily). These findings have brought researchers closer to finding deeper connections between certain proteins and other metabolic processes. 

I think this new information is hopeful, especially for those struggling with metabolic disorders. I would have never thought that bitter tastes could be related to cholesterol nor that there were so many bitter taste receptors. I also find it fascinating how much information could be found from a protein site, with these findings, drugs could be put together to treat and regulate G proteins through allosteric sites, possibly changing so many peoples lives. overall, I thought this article was interesting to read and eye opening, realizing that though it may not seem like it, thousands of things are truly connected whether they seem like it or not. 


  1. This is such an interesting subject! I did not know the mechanisms behind how people perceive tastes in general and didn't understand the science behind knowing how we taste bitter things. I also didn't know that there were suspicions that the TAS2R14 receptor and bile acid or cholesterol might influence some metabolic disorders. The insight into how the receptor works can help lead to future studies into other things that work in tandem with it and possibly lead to explanations for certain disorders. It is one step in the right direction for research and one step towards a better understanding of the body's mechanisms!

  2. Hey Jacqueline,
    I like how you mentioned in your post that we don't realize how everything in our body works together because I could not agree more with that statement. I was unaware about cholesterol allowing us to perceive bitter tastes. A study like this does give a lot of insight about how every function of our body is related to each other. I would love to see more research about this topic too because we could find a way to help people with metabolic disorders and maybe even cures for things like diabetes. Great post!