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Chem Senses. 2012 Oct;37(8):737-44. doi: 10.1093/chemse/bjs063. Epub 2012 Jul 23.

Variation in the gene TAS2R13 is associated with differences in alcohol consumption in patients with head and neck cancer.

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  • 1Department of Neuroscience, University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA.


Variation in responsiveness to bitter-tasting compounds has been associated with differences in alcohol consumption. One strong genetic determinant of variation in bitter taste sensitivity is alleles of the TAS2R gene family, which encode chemosensory receptors sensitive to a diverse array of natural and synthetic compounds. Members of the TAS2R family, when expressed in the gustatory system, function as bitter taste receptors. To better understand the relationship between TAS2R function and alcohol consumption, we asked if TAS2R variants are associated with measures of alcohol consumption in a head and neck cancer patient cohort. Factors associated with increased alcohol intake are of strong interest to those concerned with decreasing the incidence of cancers of oral and pharyngeal structures. We found a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) located within the TAS2R13 gene (rs1015443 [C1040T, Ser259Asn]), which showed a significant association with measures of alcohol consumption assessed via the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT). Analyses with other SNPs in close proximity to rs1015443 suggest that this locus is principally responsible for the association. Thus, our results provide additional support to the emerging hypothesis that genetic variation in bitter taste receptors can impact upon alcohol consumption.

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