Taste isn't just for taste buds anymore

F1000 Biol Rep. 2011:3:20. doi: 10.3410/B3-20. Epub 2011 Sep 1.


Taste is a discriminative sense involving specialized receptor cells of the oral cavity (taste buds) and at least two distinct families of G protein-coupled receptor molecules that detect nutritionally important substances or potential toxins. Yet the receptor mechanisms that drive taste also are utilized by numerous systems throughout the body. How and why these so-called taste receptors are used to regulate digestion and respiration is now a matter of intense study. In this article we provide a historical perspective and an overview of these systems, leading to speculations on directions for further research.