In mammals, taste perception is a major mode of sensory input. We have identified a novel family of 40-80 human and rodent G protein-coupled receptors expressed in subsets of taste receptor cells of the tongue and palate epithelia. These candidate taste receptors (T2Rs) are organized in the genome in clusters and are genetically linked to loci that influence bitter perception in mice and humans. Notably, a single taste receptor cell expresses a large repertoire of T2Rs, suggesting that each cell may be capable of recognizing multiple tastants. T2Rs are exclusively expressed in taste receptor cells that contain the G protein alpha subunit gustducin, implying that they function as gustducin-linked receptors. In the accompanying paper, we demonstrate that T2Rs couple to gustducin in vitro, and respond to bitter tastants in a functional expression assay.
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