The special sense of taste guides and guards food intake and is essential for body maintenance. Salty and sour tastes are sensed via ion channels or gated ion channels while G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) of the taste receptor type 1 (T1R) family sense sweet and umami tastes and GPCRs of the taste receptor type 2 (T2R) family sense bitter tastes. T1R and T2R receptors share similar downstream signaling pathways that result in the stimulation of phospholipase-C-β2. The T1R family includes three members that form heterodimeric complexes to recognize either amino acids or sweet molecules such as glucose. Although these functions were originally described in gustatory tissue, T1R family members are expressed in numerous non-gustatory tissues and are now viewed as nutrient sensors that play important roles in monitoring global glucose and amino acid status. Here, we highlight emerging evidence detailing the function of T1R family members in the musculoskeletal system and review these findings in the context of the musculoskeletal diseases sarcopenia and osteoporosis, which are major public health problems among the elderly that affect locomotion, activities of daily living, and quality of life. These studies raise the possibility that T1R family member function may be modulated for therapeutic benefit.
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