Taste is the least understood among sensory systems, and bitter taste mechanisms pose a special challenge because they are elicited by a large variety of compounds. We studied bitter taste signal transduction with the quench-flow method and monitored the rapid kinetics of the second messenger guanosine 3',5'-cyclic monophosphate (cGMP) production and degradation in mouse taste tissue. In response to the bitter stimulants, caffeine and theophylline but not strychnine or denatonium cGMP levels demonstrated a rapid and transient increase that peaked at 50 ms and gradually declined throughout the following 4.5 s. The theophylline- and caffeine-induced effect was rapid, transient, concentration dependent and gustatory tissue-specific. The effect could be partially suppressed in the presence of the soluble guanylyl cyclase (GC) inhibitor 10 μM ODQ and 30 μM methylene blue but not 50 μM LY 83583 and boosted by nitric oxide donors 25 μM NOR-3 or 100 μM sodium nitroprusside. The proposed mechanism for this novel cGMP-mediated bitter taste signal transduction is cGMP production partially by the soluble GC and caffeine-induced inhibition of one or several phosphodiesterases.
ASJC Scopus subject areas