Senior Basic Research Scientist at AFB International
Bitter taste perception is mediated by members of the highly divergent TAS2R receptor family. While the molecular specificity of human TAS2Rs have been delineated, less is known about the specificities of TAS2Rs from other species. We have initiated work to understand bitter taste perception and TAS2R function in domestic cats. Phylogenetic relationships among specific cat taste receptor sequences have been compared with other carnivores; however, no studies have reported taste perception through functional expression of cat taste receptors. To understand the bitter taste perception of cats we functionally expressed two uncharacterized cat bitter taste receptors and determined their responsiveness to known human bitter compounds using a cellular assay. We demonstrate that the response profiles of the cat bitter receptors Tas2r38 and Tas2r43 are distinct from those of their homologous human receptors. Based on this knowledge we can begin to understand what compounds cats can detect through bitter receptors and improve palatability of therapeutic and dietary products with bitter components. Future work will explore the behavioral response of cats to identified ligands.
A functional comparison of the domestic cat bitter receptors Tas2r38 and Tas2r43 with their human orthologs. Sandau MM, Goodman JR, Thomas A, Rucker JB, Rawson NE. BMC Neurosci. 2015 Jun 3;16:33. doi: 10.1186/s12868-015-0170-6. PMID: 26037485
Pseudogenization of a sweet-receptor gene accounts for cats' indifference toward sugar. Li X, Li W, Wang H, Cao J, Maehashi K, Huang L, Bachmanov AA, Reed DR, Legrand-Defretin V, Beauchamp GK, Brand JG. PLoS Genet. 2005 Jul;1(1):27-35. PMID: 16103917