Functional Variant in a Bitter-Taste Receptor (hTAS2R16) Influences Risk of Alcohol Dependence

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Email this to someoneTweet about this on Twitter

A new study in The American Journal of Human Genetics which relates to taste sensitivities and alcoholism:

…Individuals with the ancestral allele K172 are at increased risk of alcohol dependence, regardless of ethnicity. However, this risk allele is uncommon in European Americans (minor-allele frequency [MAF] 0.6%), whereas 45% of African Americans carry the allele (MAF 26%), which makes it a much more significant risk factor in the African American population.

From the discussion:

…To assess the distribution of the K172 allele across multiple populations, we typed this SNP in the Human Genome Diversity Project-CEPH Human Genome Diversity Cell Line Panel, which includes 1,057 individuals and represents 52 different populations (Cann et al. 2002). The MAF for rs846664 had a range of 10%-44% in African populations, but it was not detected or was present at very low frequency in non-African populations.

I talked about the K172 allele before in my post A bitterly positive sweep.


  1. Somewhat offtopic: I’ve often wondered why such profoundly (to me) disgusting foods like liver and cauliflower can be enjoyed by other people. Is this a simple matter of xyz taste receptors not showing up in certain tongues?

  2. that is likely part of it. type “PTC” in the google search box to the right and you will see my previous posts with alluded to that.

  3. I once saw a TV news report about a black-owned movie theatre designed around black tastes (In America). The major differences which they noted (besides AAs being more verbally active in the viewing process) were the fact that blacks eat dinner in theatres more often and that they strongly prefer fruit sodas over any other kind. It was emphasized by the fact that the owner did not bother to stock colas or lemon-lime at his theatres and pretty much only sold orange and grape.

  4. Does any research indicate a genetic basis for alcohol dependence among North American native people?

  5. yes.