The human taste receptor hTAS2R14 responds to a variety of different bitter compounds

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2004 Jun 25;319(2):479-85. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2004.05.019.


The recent advances in the functional expression of TAS2Rs in heterologous systems resulted in the identification of bitter tastants that specifically activate receptors of this family. All bitter taste receptors reported to date exhibit a pronounced selectivity for single substances or structurally related bitter compounds. In the present study we demonstrate the expression of the hTAS2R14 gene by RT-PCR analyses and in situ hybridisation in human circumvallate papillae. By functional expression in HEK-293T cells we show that hTAS2R14 displays a, so far, unique broad tuning towards a variety of structurally diverse bitter compounds, including the potent neurotoxins, (-)-alpha-thujone, the pharmacologically active component of absinthe, and picrotoxinin, a poisonous substance of fishberries. The observed activation of heterologously expressed hTAS2R14 by low concentrations of (-)-alpha-thujone and picrotoxinin suggests that the receptor is sufficiently sensitive to caution us against the ingestion of toxic amounts of these substances.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bicyclic Monoterpenes
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Monoterpenes / pharmacology*
  • Picrotoxin / analogs & derivatives*
  • Picrotoxin / pharmacology*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / drug effects
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / genetics
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / physiology*
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Sesterterpenes
  • Taste Buds / metabolism


  • Bicyclic Monoterpenes
  • Monoterpenes
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Sesterterpenes
  • Picrotoxin
  • beta-thujone
  • picrotoxinin