Exploring associations between taste perception, oral anatomy and polymorphisms in the carbonic anhydrase (gustin) gene CA6

Emma L. Feeney, John E. Hayes

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61 Scopus citations


Recent reports suggest that polymorphisms in the carbonic anhydrase gene CA6 (also known as gustin) may explain additional variation in the bitterness of 6- n-propylthiouracil beyond that explained by variation in the bitter receptor gene TAS2R38. CA6 (gustin) has been implicated in taste bud function and salivary buffer capacity. In the present study we examined associations between polymorphisms in the CA6 gene with salt and bitter taste perception, and oral anatomy. 243 subjects (146 female) aged 18-45 rated the intensity of five concentrations of 6-n-propylthiouracil and NaCl on a generalized Labeled Magnitude Scale (gLMS) in duplicate and one concentration of potassium chloride (KCl). Using salivary DNA, we examined 12 SNPs within CA6 in relation to taste intensity and number of fungiform papillae. We observed no difference in bitter taste perception from 6- n-propylthiouracil (PROP) or from potassium chloride for any of the SNPs examined. Perceived saltiness of NaCl on the other hand was significantly associated with a number of CA6 polymorphisms, and particularly rs3737665. Nonetheless, FP density did not vary between alleles of rs3737665, nor with any of the other CA6 SNPs. Also, we fail to find any evidence that CA6 effects on taste perception are due to differences in fungiform papilla number. Additional work is needed to confirm whether variations within the CA6 gene may be responsible for differences in salt taste perception.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)148-154
Number of pages7
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
StatePublished - Apr 10 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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