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Variation in ligand responses of the bitter taste receptors TAS2R1 and TAS2R4 among New World monkeys.
Kei Tsutsui, Masahiro Otoh, Kodama Sakurai, Nami Suzuki-Hashido, Takashi Hayakawa, Takumi Misaka, Yoshiro Ishimaru, Filippo Aureli, Amanda D. Melin, Shoji Kawamura and Hiroo Imai

New World monkeys (NWMs) are unique in that they exhibit remarkable interspecific variation in color vision and feeding behavior, making them an excellent model for studying sensory ecology. However, it is largely unknown whether non-visual senses co-vary with feeding ecology, especially gustation, which is expected to be indispensable in food selection. Bitter taste, which is mediated by bitter taste receptors (TAS2Rs) in the tongue, helps organisms avoid ingesting potentially toxic substances in food. In this study, we compared the ligand sensitivities of the TAS2Rs of five species of NWMs by heterologous expression in HEK293T cells and calcium imaging.

We found that TAS2R1 and TAS2R4 orthologs differ in sensitivity among the NWM species for colchicine and camphor, respectively. We then reconstructed the ancestral receptors of NWM TAS2R1 and TAS2R4, measured the evolutionary shift in ligand sensitivity, and identified the amino acid replacement at residue 62 as responsible for the high sensitivity of marmoset TAS2R4 to colchicine.

Our results provide a basis for understanding the differences in feeding ecology among NWMs with respect to bitter taste.
Bibliographic information

BMC Evolutionary Biology (2016) 16:208
DOI 10.1186/s12862-016-0783-0

This paper is highlighted on http://blogs.biomedcentral.com/bmcseriesblog/2016/11/14/evolution-bitter-taste-new-world-monkeys/

2016/10/13 Primate Research Institute