Miracle berry’s magic revealed

The protein miraculin, from the West African miracle berry and its plant (Richardella dulcifica) is sold online for its unique taste-altering properties. But the exact mechanism by which it affects taste receptors, magically turning sour into sweet, has been a mystery to science until now.

Using a system of cultured cells that let them test human taste receptors at various levels of acidity and alkalinity, researchers grom the University of Tokyo found miraculin binds strongly to the sweet taste buds (specifically hT1R2-hT1R3) but — unlike sugar or aspartame — doesn’t activate them at a neutral pH.

Introduce acid, though, and the protein shifts shape in a way that “turns on” the taste bud, creating a sensation of ultra-sweet that drowns out the sour.

Read more at Wired Science

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