Food peptides activate bitter taste receptors

Jan 22, 2008

Researchers from the Monell Center and Tokyo University of Agriculture have used a novel molecular method to identify chemical compounds from common foods that activate human bitter taste receptors.

The findings, published in the journal Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, provide a practical means to manipulate food flavor in general and bitter taste in particular.

“Identification of bitter taste compounds and their corresponding receptors opens doors to screening for specific bitter receptor inhibitors,” said senior author Liquan Huang, PhD, a molecular biologist at Monell. “Such inhibitors can be used to suppress unpleasantness and thereby increase palatability and acceptance of health-promoting bitter foods, such as green vegetables or soy products.”

While a little bitterness is often considered a desirable component of a food’s flavor, extensive bitterness can limit food acceptance.

About 25 different human bitter receptors have been identified from human genome sequences. However, only a few of these bitter receptors can be activated by known chemical compounds. The remainders are ‘orphan receptors,’ meaning that the compounds that bind to and activate them have not been identified. Consequently, it is unclear how these orphan receptors contribute to bitter taste perception.

Huang and his collaborators ‘deorphanized’ several bitter receptors by demonstrating that peptides from fermented foods can specifically stimulate human bitter taste receptors expressed in a cell culture system.

Fermented foods, such as cheese or miso, are characterized by bitter off-tastes. These foods also contain abundant quantities of peptides, which are short chains of amino acids, the building blocks of proteins.

The results reveal the molecular identities of chemical food components responsible for the bitterness of fermented foods and demonstrate that bitter-tasting peptides are detected by human bitter receptors in an analogous manner to other bitter compounds.

“Information on how food constituents interact with receptors is needed to design and identify inhibitors and enhancers that can be targeted towards specific bitter compounds,” says Huang. “Our findings may help make health-promoting bitter foods such as broccoli more palatable for children and adults.”

Source: Monell Chemical Senses Center

Explore further: Ringling elephants say goodbye to the circus

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Spacewalking astronauts finish extensive, trick cable job

4 hours ago

(AP)—Spacewalking astronauts successfully completed a three-day cable job outside the International Space Station on Sunday, routing several-hundred feet of power and data lines for new crew capsules commissioned ...

IOC defends Rio legacy amid green protests

6 hours ago

Ecological protests on Saturday dogged the final day of an International Olympic Committee executive board meeting in Rio as green campaigners slated the choice of a nature reserve to hold the golf event ...

Recommended for you

Ringling elephants say goodbye to the circus

7 hours ago

Across America through the decades, children of all ages delighted in the arrival of the circus, with its retinue of clowns, acrobats and, most especially, elephants.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.