Do polymorphisms in the TAS1R1 gene contribute to broader differences in human taste intensity?

Shristi Rawal, John E. Hayes, Margaret R. Wallace, Linda M. Bartoshuk, Valerie B. Duffy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The TAS1R genes encode heterodimeric receptors that mediate umami (hTAS1R1 + hTAS1R3) and sweet (hTAS1R2 + hTAS1R3) sensations. The question of interest for this study is if TAS1R1 variation associates with differences in overall taste intensity. We leveraged an existing database of adults (n = 92, primarily European American) to test associations between 2 TAS1R1 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) (intronic rs17492553, C/T and exonic rs34160967, G/A) and intensity of 4 prototypical tastants (NaCl, sucrose, citric acid, and quinine), applied regionally to fungiform and circumvallate loci, and sampled with the whole mouth. Both SNPs were associated with modest shifts in perceived intensities across all taste qualities. Three genotype groups were represented for the intronic SNP-minor allele homozygotes (TT) averaged 40% lower intensities than did CC homozygotes for all regionally applied tastants, as well as whole-mouth NaCl and citric acid. Similar, but less pronounced, intensity differences were seen for the exonic SNP (GG homozygotes reported greater intensities than did the AA/AG group). Our predominantly European American cohort had a low frequency of AA homozygotes, which may have attenuated the SNP-related differences in perceived intensity. These preliminary findings, if replicated, could add TAS1R1 polymorphisms to the repertoire of genotypic and phenotypic markers of heightened taste sensation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)719-728
Number of pages10
JournalChemical senses
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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