NaCl taste thresholds in 13 inbred mouse strains.
ABSTRACT Molecular mechanisms of salty taste in mammals are not completely understood. We use genetic approaches to study these mechanisms. Previously, we developed a high-throughput procedure to measure NaCl taste thresholds, which involves conditioning mice to avoid LiCl and then examining avoidance of NaCl solutions presented in 48-h 2-bottle preference tests. Using this procedure, we measured NaCl taste thresholds of mice from 13 genealogically divergent inbred stains: 129P3/J, A/J, BALB/cByJ, C3H/HeJ, C57BL/6ByJ, C57BL/6J, CBA/J, CE/J, DBA/2J, FVB/NJ, NZB/BlNJ, PWK/PhJ, and SJL/J. We found substantial strain variation in NaCl taste thresholds: mice from the A/J and 129P3/J strains had high thresholds (were less sensitive), whereas mice from the BALB/cByJ, C57BL/6J, C57BL/6ByJ, CE/J, DBA/2J, NZB/BINJ, and SJL/J had low thresholds (were more sensitive). NaCl taste thresholds measured in this study did not significantly correlate with NaCl preferences or amiloride sensitivity of chorda tympani nerve responses to NaCl determined in the same strains in other studies. To examine whether strain differences in NaCl taste thresholds could have been affected by variation in learning ability or sensitivity to toxic effects of LiCl, we used the same method to measure citric acid taste thresholds in 4 inbred strains with large differences in NaCl taste thresholds but similar acid sensitivity in preference tests (129P3/J, A/J, C57BL/6J, and DBA/2J). Citric acid taste thresholds were similar in these 4 strains. This suggests that our technique measures taste quality-specific thresholds that are likely to represent differences in peripheral taste responsiveness. The strain differences in NaCl taste sensitivity found in this study provide a basis for genetic analysis of this phenotype.