Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Pussy's not got no sweet tooth

Cats eh? To some, lovable furry cute ball of fun and joy, to others the very spawn of satan condensed into a for of purest evil.
If you are of the former opinion and have ever tried to feed one of the smashers some jelly and ice cream, only to have the little get turn his nose up at you and then bring you a mouse for your three year old self to try and eat, you may be interested in knowing that new research indicates why cats, unlike most mammals, can not taste sweet stuff [1].
You may have read this in the papers as this is a rare old piece of research that can make genetics seem all cute and fluffy (kinda) instead of the evil monster that will turn us all in to rabid flesh eating zombies, a la Resident Evil.
Li et al found that the conserved gene for sweet receptors, Tas1r2 and 3 (TAS1R2 and 3 in humans, since we are special) are non-functional in domestic cats, where as they are all good and functional in sweet loving humans, rats, dogs and mice. There is a similar lack of sweet taste in the tigers and other felidae.
They also ask some interesting questions as to which came first, loss of sweets function in felidae or the exclusively carnivorous behavior.
Read it your self is you want more, I'm spent.

[1] Li X, Li W, Wang H, Cao J, Maehashi K, et al. (2005) Pseudogenization of a sweet-receptor gene accounts for catsÂ’ indifference toward sugar. PLoS Genet 1(1): e3. Full text online

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