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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Jul 23;110(30):12319-24. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1302827110. Epub 2013 Jul 1.

Genetic loss or pharmacological blockade of testes-expressed taste genes causes male sterility.

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Monell Chemical Senses Center, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


TAS1R taste receptors and their associated heterotrimeric G protein gustducin are involved in sugar and amino acid sensing in taste cells and in the gastrointestinal tract. They are also strongly expressed in testis and sperm, but their functions in these tissues were previously unknown. Using mouse models, we show that the genetic absence of both TAS1R3, a component of sweet and amino acid taste receptors, and the gustducin α-subunit GNAT3 leads to male-specific sterility. To gain further insight into this effect, we generated a mouse model that expressed a humanized form of TAS1R3 susceptible to inhibition by the antilipid medication clofibrate. Sperm formation in animals without functional TAS1R3 and GNAT3 is compromised, with malformed and immotile sperm. Furthermore, clofibrate inhibition of humanized TAS1R3 in the genetic background of Tas1r3(-/-), Gnat3(-/-) doubly null mice led to inducible male sterility. These results indicate a crucial role for these extraoral "taste" molecules in sperm development and maturation. We previously reported that blocking of human TAS1R3, but not mouse TAS1R3, can be achieved by common medications or chemicals in the environment. We hypothesize that even low levels of these compounds can lower sperm count and negatively affect human male fertility, which common mouse toxicology assays would not reveal. Conversely, we speculate that TAS1R3 and GNAT3 activators may help infertile men, particularly those that are affected by some of the mentioned inhibitors and/or are diagnosed with idiopathic infertility involving signaling pathway of these receptors.


phenoxy compounds; spermiogenesis

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