The functional role of the T1R family of receptors in sweet taste and feeding

Yada Treesukosol, Kimberly R. Smith, Alan C. Spector

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


The discovery of the T1R family of Class C G protein-coupled receptors in the peripheral gustatory system a decade ago has been a tremendous advance for taste research, and its conceptual reach has extended to other organ systems. There are three proteins in the family, T1R1, T1R2, and T1R3, encoded by their respective genes, Tas1r1, Tas1r2, and Tas1r3. T1R2 combines with T1R3 to form a heterodimer that binds with sugars and other sweeteners. T1R3 also combines with T1R1 to form a heterodimer that binds with l-amino acids. These proteins are expressed not only in taste bud cells, but one or more of these T1Rs have also been identified in the nasal epithelium, gut, pancreas, liver, kidney, testes and brain in various mammalian species. Here we review current perspectives regarding the functional role of these receptors, concentrating on sweet taste and feeding. We also discuss behavioral findings suggesting that a glucose polymer mixture, Polycose, which rodents avidly prefer, appears to activate a receptor that does not depend on the combined expression of T1R2 and T1R3. In addition, although the T1Rs have been implicated as playing a role in glucose sensing, T1R2 knock-out (KO) and T1R3 KO mice display normal chow and fluid intake as well as normal body weight compared with same-sex littermate wild type (WT) controls. Moreover, regardless of whether they are fasted or not, these KO mice do not differ from their WT counterparts in their Polycose intake across a broad range of concentrations in 30-minute intake tests. The functional implications of these results and those in the literature are considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14-26
Number of pages13
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 30 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Glucose sensing
  • Gustatory system
  • Nutrient sensing
  • Polycose
  • Sweet taste
  • T1R1
  • T1R2
  • T1R3

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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