G protein antagonists

Trends Pharmacol Sci. 1999 Jun;20(6):237-45. doi: 10.1016/s0165-6147(99)01337-1.


Heterotrimeric G proteins couple membrane-bound heptahelical receptors to their cellular effector systems (ion channels or enzymes generating a second messenger). In current pharmacotherapy, the input to G protein-regulated signalling is typically manipulated by targeting the receptor with appropriate agonists or antagonists and, to a lesser extent, by altering second messenger levels, most notably by inhibiting phosphodiesterases that hydrolyse cyclic nucleotides. When stimulated, G proteins undergo a cycle of activation and deactivation in which the alpha-subunits and the betagamma-dimers sequentially expose binding sites for their reaction partners (receptors, guanine nucleotides and effectors, as well as regulatory proteins). These domains can be blocked by inhibitors and this produces effects that cannot be achieved by receptor antagonists. Here, the structural and mechanistic information on G protein antagonists is summarized and an outline of the arguments supporting the hypothesis that G proteins per se are also potential drug targets is provided.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • GTP-Binding Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • GTP-Binding Proteins / physiology
  • Humans
  • Protein Binding / drug effects
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Suramin / pharmacology


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Suramin
  • GTP-Binding Proteins