Different tastes for different individuals

Different tastes for different individuals
Kohei Fujikura
doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/009357

Individual taste differences were first reported in the first half of the 20th century, but the primary reasons for these differences have remained uncertain. Much of the taste variation among different mammalian species can be explained by pseudogenization of taste receptors. In this study, by analyzing 14 ethnically diverse populations, we investigated whether the most recent disruptions of taste receptor genes segregate with their intact forms. Our results revealed an unprecedented prevalence of segregating loss-of-function (LoF) taste receptor variants, identifying one of the most pronounced cases of functional population diversity in the human genome. LoF variant frequency was considerably higher than the overall mutation rate, and many humans harbored varying numbers of critical mutations. In particular, molecular evolutionary rates of sour and bitter receptors were far higher in humans than those of sweet, salty, and umami receptors compared with other carnivorous mammals although not all of the taste receptors genes were identified. Many LoF variants are population-specific, some of which arose even after the population differentiation, but not before divergence of the modern and archaic (Neanderthal and Denisovan) human. Based on these findings, we conclude that modern humans might have been losing their taste receptor genes because of high-frequency LoF taste receptor variants. Finally I actually demonstrated the genetic testing of taste receptors from personal exome sequence.

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