Taste receptors in the gastrointestinal tract. I. Bitter taste receptors and alpha-gustducin in the mammalian gut

Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2006 Aug;291(2):G171-7. doi: 10.1152/ajpgi.00073.2006. Epub 2006 May 18.


Molecular sensing by gastrointestinal (GI) cells plays a critical role in the control of multiple fundamental functions in digestion and also initiates hormonal and/or neural pathways leading to the regulation of caloric intake, pancreatic insulin secretion, and metabolism. Molecular sensing in the GI tract is also responsible for the detection of ingested harmful drugs and toxins, thereby initiating responses critical for survival. The initial recognition events and mechanism(s) involved remain incompletely understood. The notion to be discussed in this article is that there are important similarities between the chemosensory machinery elucidated in specialized neuroepithelial taste receptor cells of the lingual epithelium and the molecular transducers localized recently in enteroendocrine open GI cells that sense the chemical composition of the luminal contents of the gut.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chemoreceptor Cells / physiology*
  • Gastric Mucosa / physiology*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Mucosa / physiology*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism
  • Taste / physiology*
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Transducin / metabolism*


  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • taste receptors, type 2
  • gustducin
  • Transducin