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PLoS One. 2011;6(11):e27745. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0027745. Epub 2011 Nov 23.

Sensitivity of genome-wide-association signals to phenotyping strategy: the PROP-TAS2R38 taste association as a benchmark.

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Department of Food-Consumer Interaction, Nestlé Research Center, Lausanne, Switzerland.


Natural genetic variation can have a pronounced influence on human taste perception, which in turn may influence food preference and dietary choice. Genome-wide association studies represent a powerful tool to understand this influence. To help optimize the design of future genome-wide-association studies on human taste perception we have used the well-known TAS2R38-PROP association as a tool to determine the relative power and efficiency of different phenotyping and data-analysis strategies. The results show that the choice of both data collection and data processing schemes can have a very substantial impact on the power to detect genotypic variation that affects chemosensory perception. Based on these results we provide practical guidelines for the design of future GWAS studies on chemosensory phenotypes. Moreover, in addition to the TAS2R38 gene past studies have implicated a number of other genetic loci to affect taste sensitivity to PROP and the related bitter compound PTC. None of these other locations showed genome-wide significant associations in our study. To facilitate further, target-gene driven, studies on PROP taste perception we provide the genome-wide list of p-values for all SNPs genotyped in the current study.

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