Extracellular cAMP induces chemotaxis and cell aggregation in dictyostelium discoideum cells. cAMP added to a cell suspension is rapidly hydrolyzed (half-life of 10 s) and induces a rapid increase of intracellular cGMP levels, which reach a peak at 10 s and recover prestimulated levels at about 30 s. This recovery is not due to removal of the stimulus because the nonhydrolyzable analogue adenosine 3',5'-monophosphorothioate-Sp- stereoisomer (cAMPS) induced a comparable cGMP response, which peaked at 10 s, even at subsaturating cAMPS concentrations.

When cells were stimulated twice with the same cAMP concentration at a 30-s interval, only the first stimulus produced a cGMP response. Cells did respond to the second stimulus when the concentration of the second stimulus was higher than that of the first stimulus. By increasing the interval between two identical stimuli, the response to the second stimulus gradually increased. Recovery from the first stimulus showed first-order kinetics with a half-life of 1-2 min.

The stimulation period was shortened by adding phosphodieterase to the cell suspension. The cGMP response was unaltered if the half-life of cAMP was reduced to 2 S. The peak of the transient cGMP accumulation still appeared at 10 s even when the half- life of cAMP was 0.4 s; however, the height of the cGMP peak was reduced. The cGMP response at 10 s after stimulation was diminished by 50 percent when the half-life of 10(-7) M cAMP was 0.5 s or when the half-life of 10(-8) M cAMP was 3.0 s.

These results show that the cAMP signal is transduced to two opposing processes: excitation and adaptation. Within 10 s after addition of cAMP to a cell suspension the level of adaptation reaches the level of excitation, which causes the extinction of the transduction of the signal. Deadaptation starts as soon as the signal is removed, and it has first-order kinetics with a half-life of 1-2 min.

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