Sucrose and other saccharides, which produce an appealing taste in rats, were found to significantly stimulate the activity of adenylate cyclase in membranes derived from the anterior-dorsal region of rat tongue. In control membranes derived from either tongue muscle or tongue non-sensory epithelium, the effect of sugars on adenylate cyclase activity was either much smaller or absent. Sucrose enhanced adenylate cyclase activity in a dose-related manner, and this activation was dependent on the presence of guanine nucleotides, suggesting the involvement of a GTP-binding protein (‘G-protein’). The activation of adenylate cyclase by various mono- and di-saccharides correlated with their electrophysiological potency. Among non-sugar sweeteners, sodium saccharin activated the enzyme, whereas aspartame and neohesperidin dihydrochalcone did not, in correlation with their sweet-taste effectiveness in the rat. Sucrose activation of the enzyme was partly inhibited by Cu2+ and Zn2+, in agreement with their effect on electrophysiological sweet-taste responses. Our results are consistent with a sweet-taste transduction mechanism involving specific receptors, a guanine-nucleotide-binding protein and the cyclic AMP-generating enzyme adenylate cyclase.

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