The liaison of sweet and savory

Veronica Galindo-Cuspinera, Paul A.S. Breslin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


The sense of taste provides humans with necessary information about the composition and quality of food. For humans, five basic tastes are readily distinguishable and include sweet, bitter, salty, sour, and savory (or umami). Although each of these qualities has individualized transduction pathways, sweet and umami tastes are believed to share a common receptor element, the T1R3 receptor subunit. The two G-protein-coupled heteromer receptors that comprise an umami stimulus receptor (T1R1-T1R3) and a sweetener receptor (T1R2-T1R3) constitute a potential link between these two qualities of perception. While the role of the individual monomers in each human heteromer has been examined in vitro, very little is known of the implication of this research for human perception, or specifically, how sweet and savory taste perceptions may be connected. Using a psychophysical approach, we demonstrate that lactisole, a potent sweetness inhibitor that binds in vitro to hT1R3, also inhibits a significant portion of the perception of umami taste from monosodium glutamate. Following the molecular logic put forward by Xu et al. (2004, Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA, 101, 14258-14263), our psychophysical data support the in vitro hypothesis that the shared T1R3 monomer moderates the activation of both T1R2 and T1R1 in humans and impairs suprathreshold perception, respectively, of sweetness and, to a lesser degree, umaminess in the presence of lactisole.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)221-225
Number of pages5
JournalChemical senses
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2006
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


  • GMP
  • IMP
  • Inhibition
  • Lactisole
  • MSG
  • Synergy
  • Umami


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