Metabolic responses of light and taste receptors – unexpected actions of GPCRs in adipocytes

Ekechukwu, O.N. and Christian, M. ORCID: 0000-0002-1616-4179, 2021. Metabolic responses of light and taste receptors – unexpected actions of GPCRs in adipocytes. Reviews in Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders. ISSN 1389-9155

1449595_Christian2.pdf - Published version

Download (1MB) | Preview
Image (Supplementary information)
1449595_Christian_Figure.tif - Supplemental Material

Download (10MB) | Preview


The G-protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) superfamily includes sensory receptors that can detect and respond to taste and light. Recent investigations have identified key metabolic roles for such receptors in tissues considered 'non-sensory' such as adipose tissue. The major functions of white and brown adipose tissues include energy storage/release and thermogenesis, respectively. These processes are tightly controlled by GPCR pathways that serve to maintain energy homeostasis. Opsins 3 and 4 are GPCRs activated by blue light and in adipocytes control lipolysis as well as affect brown adipocyte activity. Furthermore, Opsin 3 signals to regulate the conversion of white to thermogenic beige/BRITE (Brown-in-white) adipocytes. Taste receptors that respond to fatty acids, sweet and bitter are expressed in adipocytes as well as in taste buds. Ffar2 and the long chain fatty acid receptor GPR120 are highly expressed in white adipocytes and the human tongue. In adipose tissue Ffar2 mediates the metabolic effects of butyrate and propionate produced by the gut microbiome. GPR120 is highly expressed in brown adipose tissue and regulates fatty acid oxidation and mitochondrial function. The type I taste receptor Tas1r3 senses sweet and umami, is expressed in adipocytes and on obesogenic diets Tas1r3 global gene knockout protects from metabolic dysfunction. Type II taste receptors that sense bitter are expressed by adipocytes and bitter agonists have been found to modulate adipocyte differentiation and lipid storage levels. This review explores recent unexpected findings of light and taste receptors in adipocytes and examines effects of their signaling in the control of adipose tissue biology.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Reviews in Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders
Creators: Ekechukwu, O.N. and Christian, M.
Publisher: Springer Science and Business Media LLC
Date: 1 July 2021
ISSN: 1389-9155
Rights: © The Author(s) 2021. Open Access. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Divisions: Schools > School of Science and Technology
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 07 Jul 2021 09:42
Last Modified: 07 Jul 2021 09:42

Actions (login required)

Edit View Edit View


Views per month over past year


Downloads per month over past year