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J Agric Food Chem. 2013 Nov 6;61(44):10454-66. doi: 10.1021/jf403387p. Epub 2013 Oct 24.

Bitter taste receptor activation by flavonoids and isoflavonoids: modeled structural requirements for activation of hTAS2R14 and hTAS2R39.

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Laboratory of Food Chemistry, Wageningen University , 6708 WG Wageningen, The Netherlands.


Many flavonoids and isoflavonoids have an undesirable bitter taste, which hampers their use as food bioactives. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of a large set of structurally similar (iso)flavonoids on the activation of bitter receptors hTAS2R14 and hTAS2R39 and to predict their structural requirements to activate these receptors. In total, 68 compounds activated hTAS2R14 and 70 compounds activated hTAS2R39, among which 58 ligands were overlapping. Their activation threshold values varied over a range of 3 log units between 0.12 and 500 μM. Ligand-based 2D-fingerprint and 3D-pharmacophore models were created to detect structure-activity relationships. The 2D models demonstrated excellent predictive power in identifying bitter (iso)flavonoids and discrimination from inactive ones. The structural characteristics for an (iso)flavonoid to activate hTAS2R14 (or hTAS2R39) were determined by 3D-pharmacophore models to be composed of two (or three) hydrogen bond donor sites, one hydrogen bond acceptor site, and two aromatic ring structures, of which one had to be hydrophobic. The additional hydrogen bond donor feature for hTAS2R39 ligands indicated the possible presence of another complementary acceptor site in the binding pocket, compared to hTAS2R14. Hydrophobic interaction of the aromatic feature with the binding site might be of higher importance in hTAS2R14 than in hTAS2R39. Together, this might explain why OH-rich compounds showed different behaviors on the two bitter receptors. The combination of in vitro data and different in silico methods created a good insight in activation of hTAS2R14 and hTAS2R39 by (iso)flavonoids and provided a powerful tool in the prediction of their potential bitterness. By understanding the "bitter motif", introduction of bitter taste in functional foods enriched in (iso)flavonoid bioactives might be avoided.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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