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Evolution of the bitter taste receptor TAS2R38 in colobines
Laurentia Henrieta Permita Sari PurbaKanthi, Kanthi Arum Widayati,Nami Suzuki-Hashido, Akihiro Itoigawa, Takashi Hayakawa, Sarah Nila, Berry Juliandi, Bambang Suryobroto, Hiroo Imai

Bitter taste perception enables the detection of potentially toxic molecules and thus evokes avoidance behavior in vertebrates. It is mediated by bitter taste receptors, TAS2Rs. One of the best-studied TAS2R is TAS2R38. Phenylthiocarbamide (PTC) perception and TAS2R38 receptors vary across primate species, and this variation may be related to variation in dietary preferences. In particular, we previously found that the low sensitivity of TAS2R38s in Asian colobines likely evolved as an adaptation to their leaf-eating behavior. However, it remains unclear whether this low PTC sensitivity is a general characteristic of the subfamily Colobinae, a primate group that feeds predominantly on leaves. We performed genetic analyses, functional assays with mutant proteins, and behavioral analyses to evaluate the general characteristics of TAS2R38 in colobines. We found that PTC sensitivity is lower in TAS2R38s of African colobines than in TAS2R38s of omnivorous macaques. Furthermore, two amino acids shared between Asian and African colobines were responsible for low sensitivity to PTC, suggesting that the last common ancestor of extant colobines had this phenotype. We also detected amino acid differences between TAS2R38s in Asian and African colobines, indicating that they evolved independently after the separation of these groups.
Bibliographic information

Primates (2020)
2020/02/04 Primate Research Institute