© 2014 da Silva et al. Background: The oral GPCR nutrient/taste receptor gene repertoire consists of the Tas1r family (sweet and umami tastes), the Tas2r family (bitter taste) as well as several other potential candidate sensors of amino acids, peptones and fatty acids. Taste/nutrient receptors play a fundamental role in survival through the identification of dietary nutrients or potentially toxic compounds. In humans and rodents some variations in taste sensitivity have been related to receptor polymorphisms. Some allelic variants, in turn, have been linked to the adaptation to specific geographical locations and dietary regimes. In contrast, the porcine taste/nutrient receptor repertoire has been only partially characterized and limited information on genetic variation across breeds and geographical location exists. The present study aims at filling this void which in turn will form the bases for future improvements in pig nutrition. Results: Our results show that the pig oral repertoire of taste/nutrient receptors consists of at least 28 receptor genes with significant transcription measured for 27. When compared to humans and rodents, the porcine gene sequences encoding sensors for carbohydrates, amino acids and fatty acids were highly conserved whilst the bitter taste gene family (known as Tas2rs) showed high divergence. We identified 15 porcine Tas2rs of which 13 are orthologous to human sequences. The single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) sequence analysis using 79 pig genomes, representing 14 different breeds/populations, revealed that the Tas2r subset had higher variability (average π =2.8 × 10-3) than for non-bitter taste genes (π =1.2-1.5 × 10-3). In addition, our results show that the difference in nutrient receptor genes between Asian and European breeds accounts for only a small part of the variability, which is in contrast with previous findings involving genome wide data. Conclusions: We have defined twenty-eight oral nutrient sensing related genes for the pig. The homology with the human repertoire is high for the porcine non-bitter taste gene repertoire and low for the porcine Tas2r repertoire. Our data suggests that bitter taste is a plastic trait, possibly associated with the ability of pigs to adapt to diverse environments and that may be subject to balancing selection.
- Population genomics
- Taste receptor