Beta-adrenergic signaling in the heart: dual coupling of the beta2-adrenergic receptor to G(s) and G(i) proteins

Sci STKE. 2001 Oct 16;2001(104):re15. doi: 10.1126/stke.2001.104.re15.


Beta-adrenergic receptor (AR) subtypes are archetypical members of the G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) superfamily. Whereas both beta1AR and beta2AR stimulate the classic G(s)-adenylyl cyclase-3',5'-adenosine monophosphate (cAMP)-protein kinase A (PKA) signaling cascade, beta2AR couples to both G(s) and G(i) proteins, activating bifurcated signaling pathways. In the heart, dual coupling of the beta2AR to G(s) and G(i) results in compartmentalization of the G(s)-stimulated cAMP signal, thus selectively affecting plasma membrane effectors (such as L-type Ca(2+) channels) and bypassing cytoplasmic target proteins (such as phospholamban and myofilament contractile proteins). More important, the beta2AR-to-G(i) branch delivers a powerful cell survival signal that counters apoptosis induced by the concurrent G(s)-mediated signal or by a wide range of assaulting factors. This survival pathway sequentially involves G(i), G(beta)(gamma), phosphoinositide 3-kinase, and Akt. Furthermore, cardiac-specific transgenic overexpression of betaAR subtypes in mice results in distinctly different phenotypes in terms of the likelihood of cardiac hypertrophy and heart failure. These findings indicate that stimulation of the two betaAR subtypes activates overlapping, but different, sets of signal transduction mechanisms, and fulfills distinct or even opposing physiological and pathophysiological roles. Because of these differences, selective activation of cardiac beta2AR may provide catecholamine-dependent inotropic support without cardiotoxic consequences, which might have beneficial effects in the failing heart.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cardiomegaly / etiology
  • Cell Survival
  • Cyclic AMP / physiology
  • GTP-Binding Protein alpha Subunits, Gi-Go / metabolism*
  • GTP-Binding Protein alpha Subunits, Gs / metabolism*
  • Heart / embryology
  • Heart Failure / drug therapy
  • Heart Failure / etiology
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Models, Biological
  • Myocardium / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, beta-1 / metabolism
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, beta-2 / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction


  • Receptors, Adrenergic, beta-1
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, beta-2
  • Cyclic AMP
  • GTP-Binding Protein alpha Subunits, Gi-Go
  • GTP-Binding Protein alpha Subunits, Gs