Send to

Choose Destination
J Biol Chem. 2019 Jun 27. pii: jbc.RA119.007763. doi: 10.1074/jbc.RA119.007763. [Epub ahead of print]

Absinthin, an agonist of the bitter taste receptor hTAS2R46, uncovers an ER-to-mitochondria Ca2+-shuttling event.

Author information

University of Piemonte Orientale, Italy.
University of Piemonte Orientale.
Health of Sciences, University of Piemonte Orientale, Italy.


Type 2 taste receptors (TAS2R) are G protein-coupled receptors first described in the gustatory system, but have also been shown to have extra-oral localizations, including airway smooth muscle (ASM) cells, in which TAS2R have been reported to induce relaxation. TAS2R46 is an unexplored subtype that responds to its highly specific agonist absinthin. Here, we first demonstrate that, unlike other bitter-taste receptor agonists, absinthin alone (1 μM) in ASM cells does not induce Ca2+ signals, but reduces histamine-induced cytosolic Ca2+ increases. To investigate this mechanism, we introduced into ASM cells aequorin-based Ca2+ probes targeted to the cytosol, sub-plasma membrane domain, or the mitochondrial matrix. We show that absinthin reduces cytosolic histamine-induced Ca2+-rises and simultaneously increases Ca2+-influx into mitochondria. We found that this effect is inhibited by the potent human TAS2R46 (hTAS2R46) antagonist 3β-hydroxydihydrocostunolide and is no longer evident in hTAS2R46-silenced ASM cells, indicating that it is hTAS2R46-dependent. Furthermore, these changes were sensitive to the mitochondrial uncoupler carbonyl cyanide p-(trifluoromethoxy)phenyl-hydrazone (FCCP); the mitochondrial calcium uniporter inhibitor KB-R7943 (carbamimidothioic-acid); the cytoskeletal disrupter latrunculin; and an inhibitor of the exchange protein directly activated by cAMP (EPAC), ESI-09. Similarly, the β2 agonist salbutamol also could induce Ca2+ shuttling from cytoplasm to mitochondria, suggesting that this new mechanism might be generalizable. Moreover, forskolin and an EPAC activator mimicked this effect in HeLa cells. Our findings support the hypothesis that plasma membrane receptors can positively regulate mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake, adding a further facet to the ability of cells to encode complex Ca2+ signals.


airway smooth muscle; asthma; calcium; calcium intracellular release; mitochondria; mitochondrial calcium; signal transduction; smooth muscle

Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire
Loading ...
Support Center