Extrasensory perception: Odorant and taste receptors beyond the nose and mouth

Simon R. Foster, Eugeni Roura, Walter G. Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

82 Citations (Scopus)


G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) represent the largest family of transmembrane receptors and are prime therapeutic targets. The odorant and taste receptors account for over half of the GPCR repertoire, yet they are generally excluded from large-scale, drug candidate analyses. Accumulating molecular evidence indicates that the odorant and taste receptors are widely expressed throughout the body and functional beyond the oronasal cavity - with roles including nutrient sensing, autophagy, muscle regeneration, regulation of gut motility, protective airway reflexes, bronchodilation, and respiratory disease. Given this expanding array of actions, the restricted perception of these GPCRs as mere mediators of smell and taste is outdated. Moreover, delineation of the precise actions of odorant and taste GPCRs continues to be hampered by the relative paucity of selective and specific experimental tools, as well as the lack of defined receptor pharmacology. In this review, we summarize the evidence for expression and function of odorant and taste receptors in tissues beyond the nose and mouth, and we highlight their broad potential in physiology and pathophysiology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-61
Number of pages21
JournalPharmacology and Therapeutics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • G protein-coupled receptor
  • Odorant receptor
  • Polymorphism
  • Taste receptor

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