Extraoral bitter taste receptors in health and disease

J Gen Physiol. 2017 Feb;149(2):181-197. doi: 10.1085/jgp.201611637. Epub 2017 Jan 4.


Bitter taste receptors (TAS2Rs or T2Rs) belong to the superfamily of seven-transmembrane G protein-coupled receptors, which are the targets of >50% of drugs currently on the market. Canonically, T2Rs are located in taste buds of the tongue, where they initiate bitter taste perception. However, accumulating evidence indicates that T2Rs are widely expressed throughout the body and mediate diverse nontasting roles through various specialized mechanisms. It has also become apparent that T2Rs and their polymorphisms are associated with human disorders. In this review, we summarize the physiological and pathophysiological roles that extraoral T2Rs play in processes as diverse as innate immunity and reproduction, and the major challenges in this emerging field.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Muscle Cells / metabolism
  • Muscle Cells / physiology
  • Muscle Contraction
  • Paracrine Communication
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / genetics
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism*
  • Respiratory Mucosa / metabolism
  • Respiratory Mucosa / physiology


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