Some sweet and bitter tastants stimulate inhibitory pathway of adenylyl cyclase via melatonin and α2-adrenergic receptors in Xenopus laevis melanophores

Meirav Zubare-Samuelov, Irena Peri, Michael Tal, Mark Tarshish, Andrew I. Spielman, Michael Naim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The sweeteners saccharin, D-tryptophan, and neohesperidin dihydrochalcone (NHD) and the bitter tastant cyclo(Leu-Trp) stimulated concentration-dependent pigment aggregation in a Xenopus laevis melanophore cell line similar to melatonin. Like melatonin, these tastants inhibited (by 45-92%) cAMP formation in melanophores; pertussis toxin pretreatment almost completely abolished the tastant-induced cAMP inhibition, suggesting the involvement of the inhibitory pathway (Gi) of adenylyl cyclase. The presence of luzindole (melatonin receptor antagonist) almost completely abolished the inhibition of cAMP formation induced by saccharin, D-tryptophan, and cyclo(Leu-Trp) but only slightly affected the inhibitory effect of NHD. In contrast, the presence of an α2-adrenergic receptor antagonist, yohimbine, almost completely abolished the inhibition of cAMP formation induced by NHD but had only a minor effect on that induced by the other tastants. Thus saccharin, D-tryptophan, and cyclo(Leu-Trp) are melatonin receptor agonists whereas NHD is an α2-adrenergic receptor agonist, but both pathways lead to the same transduction output and cellular response. Formation of D-myo-inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate (IP3) in melanophores was reduced (15-58%, no concentration dependence) by saccharin, D-tryptophan, and cyclo(Leu-Trp) stimulation but increased by NHD stimulation. Tastant stimulation did not affect cGMP. Although some of the above tastants were found to be membrane permeant, their direct activation of downstream transduction components in this experimental system is questionable. MT1 and MT2 melatonin receptor mRNAs were identified in rat circumvallate papilla taste buds and nonsensory epithelium, suggesting the occurrence of MT1 and MT2 receptors in these tissues. Melatonin stimulation reduced the cellular content of cAMP in taste cells, which may or may not be related to taste sensation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)C1255-C1262
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Cell Physiology
Issue number5 54-5
StatePublished - Nov 1 2003



  • Adenosine 3′,5′-cyclic monophosphate
  • D-myo-inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate
  • Permeation
  • Pigment aggregation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cell Biology

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