Taste perception, initiated by activation of taste receptors in taste bud cells, is crucial for regulating nutrient intake. Genetic polymorphisms in taste receptor genes cannot fully explain the wide individual variations of taste sensitivity. Alternative splicing (AS) is a ubiquitous posttranscriptional mode of gene regulation that enriches the functional diversity of proteins. Here, we report the identification of a novel splicing variant of sweet taste receptor gene Tas1r2 (Tas1r2_∆e4) in mouse taste buds and the mechanism by which it diminishes sweet taste responses in vitro and in vivo. Skipping of Tas1r2 exon 4 in Tas1r2_∆e4 led to loss of amino acids in the extracellular Venus flytrap domain, and the truncated isoform reduced the response of sweet taste receptors (STRs) to all sweet compounds tested by generating nonfunctional T1R2/T1R3 STR heterodimers. The splicing factor PTBP1 (polypyrimidine tract-binding protein 1) promoted Tas1r2_∆e4 generation through binding to a polypyrimidine-rich splicing silencer in Tas1r2 exon 4, thus decreasing STR function and sweet taste perception in mice. Taken together, these data reveal the existence of a regulated AS event in Tas1r2 expression and its effect on sweet taste perception, providing a novel mechanism for modulating taste sensitivity at the posttranscriptional level.

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