The findings, published online in the journal Human Molecular Genetics, demonstrate that genetic variation in regions of DNA that encode bitter taste receptors predicts a person’s perception of bitterness from quinine.
Quinine is an anti-malarial drug that comes from the bark of the cinchona tree. Very small amounts are used to flavor tonic water.
“This study teaches us that naturally occurring medicinal compounds taste differently to people based on variations in and near a bitter receptor gene,” said lead author Danielle R. Reed, PhD, a behavioral geneticist at Monell.
It was previously known that people vary in their ability to taste synthetic bitter compounds based on their taste receptor DNA. However, not all bitter compounds are detected by the same receptors and it was not known if bitter perception of naturally-occurring medicines like quinine also was affected by genetic makeup.
In the study, 1457 twins and their siblings tasted quinine and rated its intensity. They also provided DNA samples.
The researchers then evaluated over two million places in the human genome to see whether people who were more similar in their perception of quinine also shared the same pattern of DNA.
They identified a region on chromosome 12 that was both near a bitter receptor and also associated with perception of quinine’s bitterness.
Testing a separate set of 73 twins, Reed and her collaborators confirmed that DNA changes within a gene coding for bitter receptors were associated with how intensely people perceived the bitterness of quinine.
“Depending on differences in human DNA, some people find quinine to be more bitter than others do,“ said Reed.
In addition to being located in the mouth, bitter receptors also are found in the gut. It is possible that people who are insensitive to quinine’s taste might also absorb or metabolize it differently.
Noting that both the taste perception of a compound and its pharmacological properties might be conveyed via the same receptors, Reed speculates, “We wonder whether people who are less sensitive to the taste of some bitter medicines might get less pharmacological benefit from them.”
Future studies will seek to determine whether people who perceive quinine as more bitter are also more likely to benefit from quinine’s anti-malarial actions.
Also contributing to the study were Paul Breslin and Fujiko Duke from Monell and Gu Zhu, Anjali Henders, Megan Campbell, Grant Montgomery, Sarah Medland, Nicholas Martin, and Margaret Wright from Queensland Institute of Medical Research, Australia. The research was supported by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, National Institutes of Health, the National Health and Medical Research Council, and the Australian Research Council.
The Monell Chemical Senses Center is an independent nonprofit basic research institute based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Monell advances scientific understanding of the mechanisms and functions of taste and smell to benefit human health and well-being. Using an interdisciplinary approach, scientists collaborate in the programmatic areas of sensation and perception; neuroscience and molecular biology; environmental and occupational health; nutrition and appetite; health and well-being; development, aging and regeneration; and chemical ecology and communication. For more information about Monell, visit www.monell.org.
Leslie Stein | Newswise Science News
Making fuel out of thick air
08.12.2017 | DOE/Argonne National Laboratory
‘Spying’ on the hidden geometry of complex networks through machine intelligence
08.12.2017 | Technische Universität Dresden
Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.
To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...
The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...
With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong
Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...
An interdisciplinary group of researchers interfaced individual bacteria with a computer to build a hybrid bio-digital circuit - Study published in Nature Communications
Scientists at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) have managed to control the behavior of individual bacteria by connecting them to a...
Physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (run jointly by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics) have developed an attosecond electron microscope that allows them to visualize the dispersion of light in time and space, and observe the motions of electrons in atoms.
The most basic of all physical interactions in nature is that between light and matter. This interaction takes place in attosecond times (i.e. billionths of a...
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
07.12.2017 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
11.12.2017 | Earth Sciences
11.12.2017 | Information Technology