Nutritional Implications of Genetic Taste Variation: The Role of PROP Sensitivity and Other Taste Phenotypes

Department of Food Science, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey 08901, USA.
Annual Review of Nutrition (Impact Factor: 8.36). 05/2008; 28(1):367-88. DOI: 10.1146/annurev.nutr.28.061807.155458
Source: PubMed


Genetic sensitivity to the bitter taste of phenylthiocarbamide and 6-n-propylthiouracil (PROP) is a well-studied human trait. It has been hypothesized that this phenotype is a marker for individual differences in taste perception that influence food preferences and dietary behavior with subsequent links to body weight and chronic disease risk. Steady progress has been made over the past several decades in defining the involvement of this phenotype and its underlying gene, TAS2R38, in this complex behavioral pathway. However, more work needs to be done to fully determine its overall nutritional and health significance. The primary goal of this review is to assess our current understanding of the role of the PROP bitter taste phenotype in food selection and body weight in both children and adults. A brief history of the field is included and controversies surrounding the use of different PROP screening methods are addressed. The contribution of other receptors (both bitter and nonbitter) to human taste variation is also discussed.

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    • "TAS2R38 genotypes do not completely explain the oro-sensory differences across PROP phenotypes, especially between medium and super-tasters [34]. These data imply that other factors may be involved in defining PROP phenotypes [5] [30] [34] [35]. Principal among these factors is the density of fungiform papillae [33,36–40] and the composition of saliva [41] [42] [43] [44]. "
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    ABSTRACT: PROP responsiveness is associated with TAS2R38 haplotypes and fungiform papilla density. Recently, we showed that a polymorphism in the gene coding for the salivary trophic factor, gustin (CA6), affects PROP sensitivity by acting on cell growth and fungiform papillae maintenance, in a genetically homogeneous cohort. Since population homogeneity can lead to over estimation of gene effects, the primary aim of the present work was to confirm gustin's role in PROP bitterness intensity and fungiform papillae density in a genetically diverse population. Eighty subjects were genotyped for both genes by PCR techniques. PROP responsiveness was assessed by filter paper method and fungiform papilla density was determined in each subject. As expected, PROP bitterness ratings were lower in individuals with the AVI/AVI diplotype of TAS2R38 than in individuals with PAV/PAV and PAV/AVI diplotype. However, no differences in PROP bitterness among genotypes of the gustin gene, and no differences in the density of fungiform papillae related to TAS2R38 diplotype were found. In contrast, the density of fungiform papillae decreased as the number of minor (G) alleles at the gustin locus increased. In addition, the distribution of TAS2R38 genotypes within each gustin genotype group showed that the occurrence of recessive alleles at both loci was infrequent in the present sample compared to other populations. These findings confirm that papillae density is associated with gustin gene polymorphism, rs2274333 (A/G), in an ancestrally heterogeneous population, and suggest that variations in the frequency of allele combinations for these two genes could provide a salient explanation for discrepant findings for gustin gene effects across populations.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2014 · Physiology & Behavior
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    • "Despite the large number of bitter taste receptors, ∼25–30 T2Rs in mammals [9], it is not surprising that many T2Rs are activated by numerous and various compounds given the vast array of tastants [10]. Furthermore, polymorphisms of some T2Rs, including T2R38, have been reported, which affect individual ability to perceive bitterness, which might influence nutrient intake and dietary preference and be associated with diet-related disorders [63], [64]. The ability of many T2Rs to respond to various ligands and the diverse distribution of these T2Rs ranging from taste buds to a variety of systems such as the respiratory, reproductive, gastrointestinal and nervous system, support the concept that distinct populations of T2Rs exert different functions depending upon the site of expression and ligand. "
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    ABSTRACT: Bitter taste receptors and signaling molecules, which detect bitter taste in the mouth, are expressed in the gut mucosa. In this study, we tested whether two distinct bitter taste receptors, the bitter taste receptor 138 (T2R138), selectively activated by isothiocyanates, and the broadly tuned bitter taste receptor 108 (T2R108) are regulated by luminal content. Quantitative RT-PCR analysis showed that T2R138 transcript is more abundant in the colon than the small intestine and lowest in the stomach, whereas T2R108 mRNA is more abundant in the stomach compared to the intestine. Both transcripts in the stomach were markedly reduced by fasting and restored to normal levels after 4 hours re-feeding. A cholesterol-lowering diet, mimicking a diet naturally low in cholesterol and rich in bitter substances, increased T2R138 transcript, but not T2R108, in duodenum and jejunum, and not in ileum and colon. Long-term ingestion of high-fat diet increased T2R138 RNA, but not T2R108, in the colon. Similarly, a-gustducin, a bitter taste receptor signaling molecule, was reduced by fasting in the stomach and increased by lowering cholesterol in the small intestine and by high-fat diet in the colon. These data show that both short and long term changes in the luminal contents alter expression of bitter taste receptors and associated signaling molecules in the mucosa, supporting the proposed role of bitter taste receptors in luminal chemosensing in the gastrointestinal tract. Bitter taste receptors might serve as regulatory and defensive mechanism to control gut function and food intake and protect the body from the luminal environment.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2014 · PLoS ONE
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    • "Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the TAS2R38 gene have been identified as the key determinants of this capability, as well as for that of tasting the related compound 6-n-propylthiouracil (PROP) (Bufe et al. 2005; Kim et al. 2003; Duffy et al. 2004). In particular, PROP status (i.e., taster or non-taster) has been proposed by some authors to have a broad effect on other oral sensations and therefore has been considered a marker for food preferences and diet selection (Tepper 2008). However, this issue is highly debated as other studies showed that PROP responsiveness had no influence on food preferences (Baranowski et al. 2011). "
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    ABSTRACT: The demand for diet products is continuously increasing, together with that for natural food ingredients. Stevioside and other steviol glycosides extracted from the leaves of the plant Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni are the first natural high-potency sweeteners to be approved for consumption in the United States and the European Union. However, the sweetness of these compounds is generally accompanied by aversive sensations, such as bitter and off-tastes, which may constitute a limit to their consumption. Moreover, consumers' differences in sensitivity to high-potency sweeteners are well known, as well as difficulties in characterizing their aftertaste. Recently, TAS2R4 and TAS2R14 have been identified as the receptors that mediate the bitter off-taste of steviol glycosides in vitro. In the present study, we demonstrate that TAS2R4 gene polymorphism rs2234001 and TAS2R14 gene polymorphism rs3741843 are functional for stevioside bitterness perception.
    Full-text · Article · May 2014 · Genes & Nutrition
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