The goal of this project is to discover genes underlying taste preferences, particularly those responsible for the preferences for sodium, calcium, and acids. Over the last 15 yr, several fundamental insights into the genetic and molecular basis of taste transduction have been made using mouse models but there are disadvantages to using mice, and many questions remain. The rat has the potential to be a better model. It has traditionally been used for taste preference experiments, and there is a massive literature dealing with rat physiology, nutrition and learning mechanisms. The problem has been that until recently genetic tools for studying the rat have not been available, but this has changed. This project will take advantage of a new consomic rat resource to investigate the genetic basis of taste preferences in rats. Preliminary work has identified consomic rat strains that differ from their background strain in preferences for sodium, calcium and acids. To exploit this, we now propose to better characterize the phenotype of the consomic rat strains, and isolate the genes involved by breeding congenic rat lines. The expression patterns of genes in the congenic interval will be surveyed to evaluate their potential contribution to the phenotype. These studies will lead to the discovery and characterization of genes responsible for taste preferences.

Public Health Relevance

This project investigates the genetic controls of taste preferences. The goal is to find the genes that determine what we eat. Understanding the basic mechanisms underlying why we choose to consume particular foods and drinks is important for guiding nutritional interventions and policy. An understanding of how food choices are made will lead to the development of effective strategies and treatments to increase the intake of needed nutrients and decrease the intake of unneeded ones. Better food choices would reduce the incidence of many chronic diseases, including obesity, hypertension and osteoporosis.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
Research Project (R01)
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Somatosensory and Chemosensory Systems Study Section (SCS)
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Sullivan, Susan L
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Monell Chemical Senses Center
United States
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Voznesenskaya, Anna; Tordoff, Michael G (2015) Low-calcium diet prevents fructose-induced hyperinsulinemia and ameliorates the response to glucose load in rats. Nutr Metab (Lond) 12:38
Voznesenskaya, Anna; Tordoff, Michael G (2013) Influence of estrous and circadian cycles on calcium intake of the rat. Physiol Behav 112-113:56-60
Golden, Glen J; Voznesenskaya, Anna; Tordoff, Michael G (2012) Chorda tympani nerve modulates the rat's avoidance of calcium chloride. Physiol Behav 105:1214-8
Reed, Danielle R; Duke, Fujiko F; Ellis, Hillary K et al. (2011) Body fat distribution and organ weights of 14 common strains and a 22-strain consomic panel of rats. Physiol Behav 103:523-9
Tordoff, Michael G (2010) Taste solution consumption by FHH-Chr nBN consomic rats. Chem Senses 35:473-89