Functional characterization of bitter-taste receptors expressed in mammalian testis.
ABSTRACT: Mammalian spermatogenesis and sperm maturation are susceptible to the effects of internal and external factors. However, how male germ cells interact with and respond to these elements including those potentially toxic substances is poorly understood. Here, we show that many bitter-taste receptors (T2rs), which are believed to function as gatekeepers in the oral cavity to detect and innately prevent the ingestion of poisonous bitter-tasting compounds, are expressed in mouse seminiferous tubules. Our in situ hybridization results indicate that Tas2r transcripts are expressed postmeiotically. Functional analysis showed that mouse spermatids and spermatozoa responded to both naturally occurring and synthetic bitter-tasting compounds by increasing intracellular free calcium concentrations, and individual male germ cells exhibited different ligand-activation profiles, indicating that each cell may express a unique subset of T2r receptors. These calcium responses could be suppressed by a specific bitter-tastant blocker or abolished by the knockout of the gene for the G protein subunit ?-gustducin. Taken together, our data strongly suggest that male germ cells, like taste bud cells in the oral cavity and solitary chemosensory cells in the airway, utilize T2r receptors to sense chemicals in the milieu that may affect sperm behavior and fertilization.
Project description:T2Rs (bitter taste-sensing type 2 receptors) are expressed in the oral cavity to prevent ingestion of dietary toxins through taste avoidance. They are also expressed in other cell types, including gut enteroendocrine cells, where their physiological role is enigmatic. Previously, we proposed that T2R-dependent CCK (cholecystokinin) secretion from enteroendocrine cells limits absorption of dietary toxins, but an active mechanism was lacking. In the present study we show that T2R signalling activates ABCB1 (ATP-binding cassette B1) in intestinal cells through a CCK signalling mechanism. PTC (phenylthiocarbamide), an agonist for the T2R38 bitter receptor, increased ABCB1 expression in both intestinal cells and mouse intestine. PTC induction of ABCB1 was decreased by either T2R38 siRNA (small interfering RNA) or treatment with YM022, a gastrin receptor antagonist. Thus gut ABCB1 is regulated through signalling by CCK/gastrin released in response to PTC stimulation of T2R38 on enteroendocrine cells. We also show that PTC increases the efflux activity of ABCB1, suggesting that T2R signalling limits the absorption of bitter tasting/toxic substances through modulation of gut efflux membrane transporters.
Project description:Bitter taste-sensing G protein-coupled receptors (type 2 taste receptors [T2Rs]) are expressed in taste receptor cells of the tongue, where they play an important role in limiting ingestion of bitter-tasting, potentially toxic compounds. T2Rs are also expressed in gut-derived enteroendocrine cells, where they have also been hypothesized to play a role in limiting toxin absorption. In this study, we have shown that T2R gene expression in both cultured mouse enteroendocrine cells and mouse intestine is regulated by the cholesterol-sensitive SREBP-2. In addition, T2R stimulation of cholecystokinin (CCK) secretion was enhanced directly by SREBP-2 in cultured cells and in mice fed chow supplemented with lovastatin and ezetimibe (L/E) to decrease dietary sterol absorption and increase nuclear activity of SREBP-2. Low-cholesterol diets are naturally composed of high amounts of plant matter that is likely to contain dietary toxins, and CCK is known to improve dietary absorption of fats, slow gastric emptying, and decrease food intake. Thus, these studies suggest that SREBP-2 activation of bitter signaling receptors in the intestine may sensitize the gut to a low-fat diet and to potential accompanying food-borne toxins that make it past the initial aversive response in the mouth.
Project description:The detection of bitter-tasting compounds by the gustatory system is thought to alert animals to the presence of potentially toxic food. Some, if not all, bitter stimuli activate specific taste receptors, the T2Rs, which are expressed in subsets of taste receptor cells on the tongue and palate. However, there is evidence for both receptor-dependent and -independent transduction mechanisms for a number of bitter stimuli, including quinine hydrochloride (QHCl) and denatonium benzoate (DB).We used brief-access behavioral taste testing of BXD/Ty recombinant inbred (RI) mouse strains to map the major quantitative trait locus (QTL) for taste sensitivity to QHCl. This QTL is restricted to a ~5 Mb interval on chromosome 6 that includes 24 genes encoding T2Rs (Tas2rs). Tas2rs at this locus display in total 307 coding region single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) between the two BXD/Ty RI parental strains, C57BL/6J (quinine-sensitive) and DBA/2J (quinine insensitive); approximately 50% of these mutations are silent. Individual RI lines contain exclusively either C57BL/6J or DBA/2J Tas2r alleles at this locus, and RI lines containing C57BL/6J Tas2r alleles are more sensitive to QHCl than are lines containing DBA/2J alleles. Thus, the entire Tas2r cluster comprises a large haplotype that correlates with quinine taster status.These studies, the first using a taste-salient assay to map the major QTL for quinine taste, indicate that a T2R-dependent transduction cascade is responsible for the majority of strain variance in quinine taste sensitivity. Furthermore, the large number of polymorphisms within coding exons of the Tas2r cluster, coupled with evidence that inbred strains exhibit largely similar bitter taste phenotypes, suggest that T2R receptors are quite tolerant to variation.
Project description:Since the process of becoming dead genes or pseudogenes (pseudogenization) is irreversible and can occur rather rapidly under certain environmental circumstances, it is one plausible determinant for characterizing species specificity. To test this evolutionary hypothesis, we analyzed the tempo and mode of duplication and pseudogenization of bitter taste receptor (T2R) genes in humans as well as in 12 nonhuman primates. The results show that primates have accumulated more pseudogenes than mice after their separation from the common ancestor and that lineage-specific pseudogenization becomes more conspicuous in humans than in nonhuman primates. Although positive selection has operated on some amino acids in extracellular domains, functional constraints against T2R genes are more relaxed in primates than in mice and this trend has culminated in the rapid deterioration of the bitter-tasting capability in humans. Since T2R molecules play an important role in avoiding generally bitter toxic and harmful substances, substantial modification of the T2R gene repertoire is likely to reflect different responses to changes in the environment and to result from species-specific food preference during primate evolution.
Project description:Taste receptors (TASRs) are expressed not only in the oral cavity but also throughout the body, thus suggesting that they may play different roles in organ systems beyond the tongue. Recent studies showed the expression of several TASRs in mammalian testis and sperm, indicating an involvement of these receptors in male gametogenesis and fertility. This notion is supported by an impaired reproductive phenotype of mouse carrying targeted deletion of taste receptor genes, as well as by a significant correlation between human semen parameters and specific polymorphisms of taste receptor genes. To better understand the biological and thus clinical significance of these receptors for human reproduction, we analyzed the expression of several members of the TAS2Rs family of bitter receptors in human testis and in ejaculated sperm before and after in vitro selection and capacitation. Our results provide evidence for the expression of TAS2R genes, with TAS2R14 being the most expressed bitter receptor subtype in both testis tissue and sperm cells, respectively. In addition, it was observed that in vitro capacitation significantly affects both the expression and the subcellular localization of these receptors in isolated spermatozoa. Interestingly, ?-gustducin and ?-transducin, two G? subunits expressed in taste buds on the tongue, are also expressed in human spermatozoa; moreover, a subcellular redistribution of both G protein ?-subunits to different sub-compartments of sperm was registered upon in vitro capacitation. Finally, we shed light on the possible downstream transduction pathway initiated upon taste receptor activation in the male reproductive system. Performing ultrasensitive droplets digital PCR assays to quantify RNA copy numbers of a distinct gene, we found a significant correlation between the expression of TAS2Rs and TRPM5 (r = 0.87), the cation channel involved in bitter but also sweet and umami taste transduction in taste buds on the tongue. Even if further studies are needed to clarify the precise functional role of taste receptors for successful reproduction, the presented findings significantly extend our knowledge of the biological role of TAS2Rs for human male fertility.
Project description:Although a role for the gastric and intestinal mucosa in molecular sensing has been known for decades, the initial molecular recognition events that sense the chemical composition of the luminal contents has remained elusive. Here we identified putative taste receptor gene transcripts in the gastrointestinal tract. Our results, using reverse transcriptase-PCR, demonstrate the presence of transcripts corresponding to multiple members of the T2R family of bitter taste receptors in the antral and fundic gastric mucosa as well as in the lining of the duodenum. In addition, cDNA clones of T2R receptors were detected in a rat gastric endocrine cell cDNA library, suggesting that these receptors are expressed, at least partly, in enteroendocrine cells. Accordingly, expression of multiple T2R receptors also was found in STC-1 cells, an enteroendocrine cell line. The expression of alpha subunits of G proteins implicated in intracellular taste signal transduction, namely Galpha(gust), and Galpha(t)-(2), also was demonstrated in the gastrointestinal mucosa as well as in STC-1 cells, as revealed by reverse transcriptase-PCR and DNA sequencing, immunohistochemistry, and Western blotting. Furthermore, addition of compounds widely used in bitter taste signaling (e.g., denatonium, phenylthiocarbamide, 6-n-propil-2-thiouracil, and cycloheximide) to STC-1 cells promoted a rapid increase in intracellular Ca(2+) concentration. These results demonstrate the expression of bitter taste receptors of the T2R family in the mouse and rat gastrointestinal tract.
Project description:The bitter taste serves as an important natural defence against the ingestion of poisonous foods and is thus believed to be indispensable in animals. However, vampire bats are obligate blood feeders that show a reduced behavioural response towards bitter-tasting compounds. To test whether bitter taste receptor genes (T2Rs) have been relaxed from selective constraint in vampire bats, we sampled all three vampire bat species and 11 non-vampire bats, and sequenced nine one-to-one orthologous T2Rs that are assumed to be functionally conserved in all bats. We generated 85 T2R sequences and found that vampire bats have a significantly greater percentage of pseudogenes than other bats. These results strongly suggest a relaxation of selective constraint and a reduction of bitter taste function in vampire bats. We also found that vampire bats retain many intact T2Rs, and that the taste signalling pathway gene Calhm1 remains complete and intact with strong functional constraint. These results suggest the presence of some bitter taste function in vampire bats, although it is not likely to play a major role in food selection. Together, our study suggests that the evolutionary reduction of bitter taste function in animals is more pervasive than previously believed, and highlights the importance of extra-oral functions of taste receptor genes.
Project description:In the past several years, tremendous progress has been achieved with the discovery and characterization of vertebrate taste receptors from the T1R and T2R families, which are involved in recognition of bitter, sweet, and umami taste stimuli. Individual differences in taste, at least in some cases, can be attributed to allelic variants of the T1R and T2R genes. Progress with understanding how T1R and T2R receptors interact with taste stimuli and with identifying their patterns of expression in taste cells sheds light on coding of taste information by the nervous system. Candidate mechanisms for detection of salts, acids, fat, complex carbohydrates, and water have also been proposed, but further studies are needed to prove their identity.
Project description:T2R (Tas2R) genes encode a family of G protein-coupled gustatory receptors, several involved in bitter taste perception. So far, few ligands for these receptors have been identified, and the specificity of most T2Rs is unclear. Differences between individual T2Rs result in altered taste perception in either specificity or sensitivity. All 33 human T2Rs are characterized by significant sequence homology. However, with a total of eight pseudogenes and >83 coding region single-nucleotide polymorphisms, the family displays broad diversity. The underlying variability of individual T2Rs might be the source for personalized taste perception. To test this hypothesis and also to identify T2Rs that possibly function beyond bitter taste, we compared all human T2R genes with those of the closely related primate species Pan paniscus (bonobo) and Pan troglodytes (chimpanzee). The differences identified range from large sequence alterations to nonsynonymous and synonymous changes of single base pairs. In contrast to olfactory receptors, no human-specific loss of the amount of functional genes was observed. Taken together, the results indicate ongoing evolutionary diversification of T2R receptors and a role for T2Rs in dietary adaptation and personalized food uptake.
Project description:Bitter taste has been extensively studied in mammalian species and is associated with sensitivity to toxins and with food choices that avoid dangerous substances in the diet. At the molecular level, bitter compounds are sensed by bitter taste receptor proteins (T2R) present at the surface of taste receptor cells in the gustatory papillae. Our work aims at exploring the phylogenetic relationships of T2R gene sequences within different ruminant species. To accomplish this goal, we gathered a collection of ruminant species with different feeding behaviors and for which no genome data is available: American bison, chamois, elk, European bison, fallow deer, goat, moose, mouflon, muskox, red deer, reindeer and white tailed deer. The herbivores chosen for this study belong to different taxonomic families and habitats, and hence, exhibit distinct foraging behaviors and diet preferences. We describe the first partial repertoires of T2R gene sequences for these species obtained by direct sequencing. We then consider the homology and evolutionary history of these receptors within this ruminant group, and whether it relates to feeding type classification, using MEGA software. Our results suggest that phylogenetic proximity of T2R genes corresponds more to the traditional taxonomic groups of the species rather than reflecting a categorization by feeding strategy.