TAS2R38 (taste receptor, type 2, member 38)

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TAS2R38 is a bitter taste receptor, and its gene is responsible for PTC (phenylthiocarbamide) tastor polymorphism with three nonsynonymous substitutions at amino acid sites 49 (encoding proline or alanine), 262 (alanine or valine) and 296 (valine or isoleucine).  One Neanderthal individual was shown to be heterozygous for two major TAS2R38 alleles (proline-alanine-valine and alanine-valine-isoleucine), suggesting that the PTC polymorphism goes back to the common ancestor of modern humans and Neanderthals.  Balancing selection was proposed to explain this polymorphism, but it is not clear if any selection pressure really exists.

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Topic Certainty
Taste Receptors True
Genetics Topic Attributes
Gene symbols follow the HUGO Gene Nomenclature Committee standard.
Gene Symbol Type of Human-Specific Changes
TAS2R38 Polymorphism


  1. Insights into hominin phenotypic and dietary evolution from ancient DNA sequence data, Perry, G., Kistler L., Kelaita M., and Sams A. , Journal of Human Evolution, 02/2015, Volume 79, p.55-63, (2015)
  2. Bitter taste perception in Neanderthals through the analysis of the TAS2R38 gene., Lalueza-Fox, Carles, Gigli Elena, de la Rasilla Marco, Fortea Javier, and Rosas Antonio , Biol Lett, 2009 Dec 23, Volume 5, Issue 6, p.809-11, (2009)
  3. Independent evolution of bitter-taste sensitivity in humans and chimpanzees., Wooding, Stephen, Bufe Bernd, Grassi Christina, Howard Michael T., Stone Anne C., Vazquez Maribel, Dunn Diane M., Meyerhof Wolfgang, Weiss Robert B., and Bamshad Michael J. , Nature, 2006 Apr 13, Volume 440, Issue 7086, p.930-4, (2006)