First elucidation of the three-dimensional structure of the sensor region of receptor that senses taste

May 24(Wed), 2017

Nipawan Nuemket, former specially appointed Assistant Professor (at the time of the research) at Division of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Graduate School of Medicine, Dentistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Okayama University, Norihisa Yasui, Assistant Professor at the Division, and Atsuko Yamashita, Professor at the Division, in collaboration with RIKEN, National Agriculture and Food Research Organization (NARO), Institute for Molecular Science (IMS), Tohoku University, and Osaka University have successfully solved the shape of a taste receptor with a taste substance binding to it at an atomic level.  Taste receptors are proteins that are present in the mouth and sense taste substances.  The research group revealed the structure of the main part (extracellular sensor region) of a taste receptor with a taste substance binding to it.  This is the first elucidation of the three-dimensional structure of any sensor proteins (receptors) responsible for chemical sensation, such as taste and odor perception, among the five senses.  This study was reported in the U.K.’s scientific journal Nature Communications at 10 a.m. British Time (6 p.m. Japan Time) on May 23.

In taste perception, diverse chemical substances in food are recognized by much fewer types of taste receptors.  This means that a single taste receptor does not strictly distinguish one specific chemical substance but rather a relatively wide range of chemical substances, with regard to taste perception.  Analysis of a taste receptor at a large synchrotron radiation facility, SPring-8, revealed that the receptor’s taste-substance-binding pocket has a characteristic structure that enables recognition of various taste substances.

The interaction between a taste receptor and a taste substance thus observed for the first time at an atomic level is the first reaction leading to taste perception.  The group’s promising findings would be an important step toward understanding of the mechanism of taste perception and would even lead to development of new taste substances.

Article Information

DOI: 10.1038/NCOMMS15530

Journal: Nature Communications 

Title: Structural basis for perception of diverse chemical substances by T1r taste receptors

Authors: Nipawan Nuemket, Norihisa Yasui, Yuko Kusakabe, Yukiyo Nomura Nanako Atsumi, Shuji Akiyama, Eriko Nango, Yukinari Kato, Mika Kaneko,  Junichi Takagi,  Maiko Hosotani,  Atsuko Yamashita

Year of Publication: 2017

Volume: 15530

Okayama University Silicon Valley Office (OUSVO)
Contact: Mototaka Senda, Ph.D.
Phone: (1)510-468-3372
taste perception, sensor proteins,

Back to List