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Mol Immunol. 2015 Dec;68(2 Pt C):663-70. doi: 10.1016/j.molimm.2015.10.012. Epub 2015 Nov 6.

Genotype-specific regulation of oral innate immunity by T2R38 taste receptor.

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Department of Oral Health Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195-7475, USA.
Department of Oral Health Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195-7475, USA. Electronic address:


The bitter taste receptor T2R38 has been shown to regulate mucosal innate immune responses in the upper airway epithelium. Furthermore, SNPs in T2R38 influence the sensitivity to 6-n-propylthiouracil (PROP) and are associated with caries risk/protection. However, no study has been reported on the role of T2R38 in the innate immune responses to oral bacteria. We hypothesize that T2R38 regulates oral innate immunity and that this regulation is genotype-specific. Primary gingival epithelial cells carrying three common genotypes, PAV/PAV (PROP super-taster), AVI/PAV (intermediate) and AVI/AVI (non-taster) were stimulated with cariogenic bacteria Streptococcus mutans, periodontal pathogen Porphyromonas gingivalis or non-pathogen Fusobacterium nucleatum. QRT-PCR analyzed T2R38 mRNA, and T2R38-specific siRNA and ELISA were utilized to evaluate induction of hBD-2 (antimicrobial peptide), IL-1α and IL-8 in various donor-lines. Experiments were set up in duplicate and repeated three times. T2R38 mRNA induction in response to S. mutans was highest in PAV/PAV (4.3-fold above the unstimulated controls; p<0.05), while lowest in AVI/AVI (1.2-fold). In PAV/PAV, hBD-2 secretion in response to S. mutans was decreased by 77% when T2R38 was silenced. IL-1α secretion was higher in PAV/PAV compared to AVI/PAV or AVI/AVI with S. mutans stimulation, but it was reduced by half when T2R38 was silenced (p<0.05). In response to P. gingivalis, AVI/AVI showed 4.4-fold increase (p<0.05) in T2R38 expression, whereas the levels in PAV/PAV and AVI/PAV remained close to that of the controls. Secretion levels of IL-1α and IL-8 decreased in AVI/AVI in response to P. gingivalis when T2R38 was silenced (p<0.05), while the changes were not significant in PAV/PAV. Our data suggest that the regulation of gingival innate immunity by T2R38 is genotype-dependent and that the ability to induce a high level of hBD-2 by PAV/PAV carriers may be a reason for protection against caries in this group.


Caries; Innate immunity; T2R38 signaling; Taste receptors

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