Analyses of Sweet Receptor Gene (Tas1r2) and Preference for Sweet Stimuli in Species of Carnivora
Journal of Heredity
Carnivore, Diet, Sweeteners, Sweet receptor, Taste testing
The extent to which taste receptor specificity correlates with, or even predicts, diet choice is not known. We recently reported that the insensitivity to sweeteners shown by species of Felidae can be explained by their lacking of a functional Tas1r2 gene. To broaden our understanding of the relationship between the structure of the sweet receptors and preference for sugars and artificial sweeteners, we measured responses to 12 sweeteners in 6 species of Carnivora and sequenced the coding regions of Tas1r2 in these same or closely related species. The lion showed no preference for any of the 12 sweet compounds tested, and it possesses the pseudogenized Tas1r2. All other species preferred some of the natural sugars, and their Tas1r2 sequences, having complete open reading frames, predict functional sweet receptors. In addition to preferring natural sugars, the lesser panda also preferred 3 (neotame, sucralose, and aspartame) of the 6 artificial sweeteners. Heretofore, it had been reported that among vertebrates, only Old World simians could taste aspartame. The observation that the lesser panda highly preferred aspartame could be an example of evolutionary convergence in the identification of sweet stimuli.
Li, Xia; Dieter Glaser; Weihua Li; Warren E. Johnson; Stephen J. O'Brien; Gary K. Beauchamp; and Joseph G. Brand. 2009. "Analyses of Sweet Receptor Gene (Tas1r2) and Preference for Sweet Stimuli in Species of Carnivora." Journal of Heredity 100, (Suppl. 1): S90-S100. http://nsuworks.nova.edu/cnso_bio_facarticles/479