Science paper on sense of taste gets expression of concern as university investigates – Retraction Watch

Science: has published an expression of concern for a recent article on a receptor for bitter taste while the authors’ institution investigates “potential discrepancies” with a figure.

The article, “Structural basis for strychnine activation of human bitter taste receptor TAS2R46,” was published in September of this year.

According to the abstract:

Taste sensing is a sophisticated chemosensory process, and bitter taste perception is mediated by type 2 taste receptors (TAS2Rs), or class TG protein-coupled receptors. Understanding the detailed molecular mechanisms behind taste sensation is hindered by a lack of experimental receptor structures. Here, we report the cryo-electron microscopy structures of human TAS2R46 complexed with chimeric mini-G protein gustducin, in both strychnine-bound and apo forms. Several features of TAS2R46 are disclosed, including distinct receptor structures that compare with known GPCRs, a new “toggle switch,” activation-related motifs, and precoupling with mini-G protein gustducin. Furthermore, the dynamic extracellular and more-static intracellular parts of TAS2R46 suggest possible diverse ligand-recognition and activation processes. This study provides a basis for further exploration of other bitter taste receptors and their therapeutic applications.

The expression of concern states that a post-publication analysis of the paper found that one figure had “potential discrepancies”.

On 15 September 2022, Science: published the Research Article “Structural basis for strychnine activation of human bitter taste receptor TAS2R46” by Weixiu Xu et al. Science: editors have been made aware that the examination of data provided after publication revealed potential discrepancies with Fig S10D. This figure was used to support a proposal of pre-coupling between TAS2R46 and the G protein gustducin. Science: is alerting readers to these concerns while the authors’ institution investigates further.

The corresponding authors of the paper are Zhi-Jie Liu and Tian Hua of the iHuman Institute at ShanghaiTech University in China.

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