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Physiol Behav. 2016 Oct 1;164(Pt B):453-63. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2016.03.015. Epub 2016 Mar 15.

Molecular mechanism of sweetness sensation.

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Almendra (Thailand) Ltd., 215 Quincy Lane, Roswell, GA 30076, USA. Electronic address:


The current understanding of peripheral molecular events involved in sweet taste sensation in humans is reviewed. Included are discussions of the sweetener receptor T1R2/T1R3, its agonists, antagonists, positive allosteric modulators, the transduction of its activation in taste bud cells and the coding of its signaling to the CNS. Areas of incomplete understanding include 1) signal communication with afferent nerve fibers, 2) contrasting concentration/response (C/R) functions for high-potency (HP) sweeteners (hyperbolic) and carbohydrate (CHO) sweeteners (linear), 3) contrasting temporal profiles for HP sweeteners (delayed onset and extinction) and CHO sweeteners (rapid onset and extinction) and 4) contrasting adaptation behaviors for HP sweeteners (moderate to strong adaptation) and CHO sweeteners (low adaptation). Evidence based on the sweet water aftertastes of several novel sweetness inhibitors is presented providing new support for constitutive activity in T1R2/T1R3. And a model is developed to rationalize the linear C/R functions of CHO sweeteners and hyperbolic C/R functions of HP sweeteners, where the former may activate T1R2/T1R3 by both binding and constitutive activity modulation (i.e., without binding) and the latter activate T1R2/T1R3 only by binding.


Sweetener; Sweetener positive allosteric modulator; Sweetener receptor; Sweetness inhibitor; Sweetness mechanism and constitutive activity

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