Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry

, Volume 454, Issue 1–2, pp 203–214 | Cite as

Bitter taste receptors are expressed in human epithelial ovarian and prostate cancers cells and noscapine stimulation impacts cell survival

  • Louis T. P. Martin
  • Mark W. Nachtigal
  • Tamara Selman
  • Elaine Nguyen
  • Jayme Salsman
  • Graham Dellaire
  • Denis J. DupréEmail author


Bitter taste receptors (Tas2Rs) are a subfamily of G-protein coupled receptors expressed not only in the oral cavity but also in several extra-oral tissues and disease states. Several natural bitter compounds from plants, such as bitter melon extract and noscapine, have displayed anti-cancer effects against various cancer types. In this study, we examined the prevalence of Tas2R subtype expression in several epithelial ovarian or prostate cancer cell lines, and the functionality of Tas2R14 was determined. qPCR analysis of five TAS2Rs demonstrated that mRNA expression often varies greatly in cancer cells in comparison to normal tissue. Using receptor-specific siRNAs, we also demonstrated that noscapine stimulation of ovarian cancer cells increased apoptosis in ovarian cancer cells in a receptor-dependent, but ROS-independent manner. This study furthers our understanding of the function of Tas2Rs in ovarian cancer by demonstrating that their activation has an impact on cell survival.


Apoptosis Bitter taste receptor Epithelial ovarian cancer Prostate cancer Noscapine G protein coupled receptor 



This work was supported by Grant funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) (Grant RGPIN-355310-2013) and seed funding from the Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute (BHCRI) (to DJD), a Bridge Grant from BHCRI (to GD), and a CancerCare Manitoba Foundation grant (to MWN). LTPM is supported through a Canadian Graduate Scholarship from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and is a trainee in the Cancer Research Training Program of the BHCRI, with funds provided by Motorcycle Ride for Dad—Nova Scotia Chapter. JS was supported by a postdoctoral fellowship from the BHCRI.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of MedicineDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada
  2. 2.Department of Biochemistry and Medical GeneticsUniversity of ManitobaWinnipegCanada
  3. 3.Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive SciencesUniversity of ManitobaWinnipegCanada
  4. 4.CancerCare Manitoba Research Institute, CancerCare MBWinnipegCanada
  5. 5.Department of PathologyDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada
  6. 6.Department of Biochemistry & Molecular BiologyDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada
  7. 7.Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research InstituteHalifaxCanada
  8. 8.Department of PharmacologyFaculty of medicineHalifaxCanada

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