Sweet taste transduction in hamster: role of protein kinases

J Neurophysiol. 2000 May;83(5):2526-32. doi: 10.1152/jn.2000.83.5.2526.


Two different second-messenger pathways have been implicated in sweet taste transduction: sugars produce cyclic AMP (cAMP), whereas synthetic sweeteners stimulate production of inositol 1,4, 5-tris-phosphate (IP(3)) and diacylglycerol (DAG). Both sugars and sweeteners depolarize taste cells by blocking the same resting K(+) conductance, but the intermediate steps in the transduction pathways have not been examined. In this study, the loose-patch recording technique was used to examine the role of protein kinases and other downstream regulatory proteins in the two sweet transduction pathways. Bursts of action currents were elicited from approximately 35% of fungiform taste buds in response to sucrose (200 mM) or NC-00274-01 (NC-01, 200 microM), a synthetic sweetener. To determine whether protein kinase C (PKC) plays a role in sweet transduction, taste buds were stimulated with the PKC activator PDBu (10 microM). In all sweet-responsive taste buds tested (n = 11), PDBu elicited burst of action currents. In contrast, PDBu elicited responses in only 4 of 19 sweet-unresponsive taste buds. Inhibition of PKC by bisindolylmaleimide I (0.15 microM) resulted in inhibition of the NC-01 response by approximately 75%, whereas the response to sucrose either increased or remained unchanged. These data suggest that activation of PKC is required for the transduction of synthetic sweeteners. To determine whether protein kinase A (PKA) is required for the transduction of sugars, sweet responses were examined in the presence of the membrane-permeant PKA inhibitor H-89 (10 and 19 microM). Surprisingly, H-89 did not decrease responses to either sucrose or NC-01. Instead, responses to both compounds were increased in the presence of the inhibitor. These data suggest that PKA is not required for the transduction of sugars, but may play a modulatory role in both pathways, such as adaptation of the response. We also examined whether Ca(2+)-calmodulin dependent cAMP phosphodiesterase (CaM-PDE) plays a role in sweet taste transduction, by examining responses to sucrose and synthetic sweeteners in the presence of the CaM-PDE inhibitor W-7 (100 microM). Inhibition resulted in an increase in the response to sucrose, whereas the response to NC-01 remained unchanged. These data suggest that the pathways for sugars and sweeteners are negatively coupled; the Ca(2+) that is released from intracellular stores during stimulation with synthetic sweeteners may inhibit the response to sucrose by activation of CaM-PDE.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • 3',5'-Cyclic-AMP Phosphodiesterases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • 3',5'-Cyclic-AMP Phosphodiesterases / metabolism
  • Action Potentials / drug effects
  • Animals
  • Carcinogens / pharmacology
  • Cricetinae
  • Cyclic AMP-Dependent Protein Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Cyclic AMP-Dependent Protein Kinases / metabolism*
  • Enzyme Activation / drug effects
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Isoquinolines / pharmacology
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Phorbol 12,13-Dibutyrate / pharmacology
  • Protein Kinase C / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Protein Kinase C / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Sodium Chloride / metabolism
  • Sodium Chloride / pharmacology
  • Stimulation, Chemical
  • Sucrose / metabolism
  • Sucrose / pharmacology
  • Sulfonamides / pharmacology
  • Sweetening Agents / metabolism*
  • Sweetening Agents / pharmacology
  • Taste / physiology*
  • Taste Buds / drug effects
  • Taste Buds / enzymology*


  • Carcinogens
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Isoquinolines
  • Sulfonamides
  • Sweetening Agents
  • Phorbol 12,13-Dibutyrate
  • Sodium Chloride
  • Sucrose
  • W 7
  • Cyclic AMP-Dependent Protein Kinases
  • Protein Kinase C
  • 3',5'-Cyclic-AMP Phosphodiesterases
  • N-(2-(4-bromocinnamylamino)ethyl)-5-isoquinolinesulfonamide