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J Med Chem. 1987 Oct;30(10):1873-9.

Quantitative structure-activity relationships of the bitter thresholds of amino acids, peptides, and their derivatives.

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Department of Agricultural Chemistry, Faculty of Agriculture, Kyoto University, Japan.


Bitter thresholds of a total of 93 amino acids, peptides, and their derivatives were analyzed quantitatively by use of hydrophobicity parameters reported for amino acid side chains and those for the whole molecules estimated from partition coefficients obtained experimentally. We also explored the steric parameters that best explained the variation in the intensity of bitterness attributable to the molecular shape. The results showed that the total length along the zigzag peptide backbone chain of the molecule is an important factor. The bitterness of nonzwitterionic N-acyl and ester derivatives and that of neutral N-acyl ester derivatives were expressed by a single, common equation together with those of zwitterionic amino acids and peptides. Thus the interaction via the charge with the receptor site was probably not an indispensible factor for triggering of the bitter sensation. This study, together with earlier ones, may serve as a prototype of approaches toward unraveling structure-activity relationships of complex molecules like amino acids, peptides, and their derivatives that are of medicinal or agricultural importance.

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