Genetic Analysis of Taste in Homo Sapiens
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There are many known taste receptors specific to each taste attribute. This thesis examines the relationship between single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and copy number variations (CNVs) in known taste and taste pathway receptors TAS2R38, Gustin, and TRPM5 and for PROP (6-n-propylthiouracil) taster status (PTS), thermal taster status (TTS), and orosensory sensation intensity ratings. PTS is a proxy for general taste responsiveness, and the ability to taste PROP classifies individuals into three phenotypes: super (PST), medium (PMT), and non-tasters (PNT). Another taste phenotype, also serving as a proxy for general taste responsiveness, is TTS, classifying individuals as thermal tasters (TTs) or thermal non-tasters (TnTs). DNA extractions from buccal cells obtained from 60 individuals were performed and analysis of TAS2R38, Gustin, and TRPM5 variations were conducted through Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), sequencing for SNPs, and upQMPSF for CNV analysis of TRPM5. Among the SNPs and CNVs studied, only TAS2R38 was found to be significantly associated with PTS and intensity ratings for sweet, bitter, and sour taste as well as astringency. However, not all PROP phenotypic differences can be explained by the variations at these three SNP sites in TAS2R38, suggesting the involvement of additional genes. No association was found between TTS and TAS2R38 or Gustin, confirming that PTS and TTS are not genetically associated. The examined TRPM5 SNPs and CNVs did not correlate with TTS. Therefore, further research is necessary into other factors contributing to PTS and TTS.