Stimulation, within 1 min after cAMP stimulation, of aggregation-competent Dictyostelium discoideum amebae was found to cause a rapid (within 1 min) modification of the cell's surface cAMP receptor. The modified receptor migrated on SDS PAGE as a 47,000-mol-wt protein, as opposed to a 45,000-mol-wt protein labeled on unstimulated cells. The length of time this modified receptor could be detected depended upon the strength of the cAMP stimulus: 3-4 min after treatment with 10(-7) M cAMP, cells no longer possessed the 47,000-mol-wt form of the cAMP receptor. Instead, the 45,000-mol-wt form was present. Stimulation of cells with 10(-5) M cAMP, however, resulted in the persistent (over 15 min) expression of the modified receptor. The time course, concentration dependence, and specificity of stimulus for this cAMP-induced shift in the cAMP receptor were found to parallel the cAMP-stimulated phosphorylation of a 47,000-mol-wt protein. In addition, both phenomena were shown to occur in the absence of endogenous cAMP synthesis. The possibility that the cAMP receptor is phosphorylated in response to cAMP stimulation, and the role of this event in cell desensitization, are discussed.

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