Bitter taste receptors (TAS2Rs) and their signaling elements are detected throughout the body, and bitter tastants induce a wide variety of biological responses in tissues and organs outside the mouth. However, the roles of TAS2Rs in these responses remain to be tested and established genetically. Here, we employed the CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing technique to delete three bitter taste receptors-Tas2r143/Tas2r135/Tas2r126 (i.e., Tas2r triple knockout [TKO]) in mice. The fidelity and effectiveness of the Tas2r deletions were validated genetically at DNA and messenger RNA levels and functionally based on the tasting of TAS2R135 and TAS2R126 agonists. Bitter tastants are known to relax airways completely. However, TAS2R135 or TAS2R126 agonists either failed to induce relaxation of pre-contracted airways in wild-type mice and Tas2r TKO mice or relaxed them dose-dependently, but to the same extent in both types of mice. These results indicate that TAS2Rs are not required for bitter tastant-induced bronchodilation. The Tas2r TKO mice also provide a valuable model to resolve whether TAS2Rs mediate bitter tastant-induced responses in many other extraoral tissues.
Keywords: Tas2r143/Tas2r135/Tas2r126 cluster; CRISPR/Cas9; bitter taste receptor; bronchodilation; lung slice.
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