Wine is the most popular alcoholic beverage around the world and because of its importance in society has been widely studied. Understanding what drives its flavor has been a quest for decades but much is still unknown and will be determined at least in part by individual taste preferences. Recently studies in the genetics of taste have uncovered the role of different genes in the determination of food preferences giving new insight on its physiology. In this context we have performed a genome-wide association study on red and white wine liking using three isolated populations collected in Italy, and replicated our results on two additional populations coming from the Netherland and Central Asia for a total of 3885 samples. We have found a significant association (P=2.1 × 10 -8) between white wine liking and rs9276975:C>T a polymorphism in the HLA-DOA gene encoding a non-canonical MHC II molecule, which regulates other MHC II molecules. The same association was also found with red wine liking (P=8.3 × 10 -6). Sex-separated analysis have also revealed that the effect of HLA-DOA is twice as large in women as compared to men suggesting an interaction between this polymorphism and gender. Our results are one of the first examples of genome-wide association between liking of a commonly consumed food and gene variants. Moreover, our results suggest a role of the MHC system in the determination of food preferences opening new insight in this field in general.
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