Heterotrimeric G proteins direct two modes of asymmetric cell division in the Drosophila nervous system

Cell. 2001 Oct 19;107(2):183-94. doi: 10.1016/s0092-8674(01)00521-9.


In Drosophila, distinct mechanisms orient asymmetric cell division along the apical-basal axis in neuroblasts and along the anterior-posterior axis in sensory organ precursor (SOP) cells. Here, we show that heterotrimeric G proteins are essential for asymmetric cell division in both cell types. The G protein subunit G(alpha)i localizes apically in neuroblasts and anteriorly in SOP cells before and during mitosis. Interfering with G protein function by G(alpha)i overexpression or depletion of heterotrimeric G protein complexes causes defects in spindle orientation and asymmetric localization of determinants. G(alpha)i is colocalized and associated with Pins, a protein that induces the release of the betagamma subunit and might act as a receptor-independent G protein activator. Thus, asymmetric activation of heterotrimeric G proteins by a receptor-independent mechanism may orient asymmetric cell divisions in different cell types.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Cell Cycle Proteins*
  • Cell Division*
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / metabolism
  • Drosophila
  • Drosophila Proteins*
  • GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • GTP-Binding Proteins / physiology
  • Heterotrimeric GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Insect Proteins / metabolism
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Mitosis
  • Models, Biological
  • Mutation
  • Nervous System / metabolism*
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Neuropeptides
  • Protein Binding
  • Transgenes


  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Insect Proteins
  • Neuropeptides
  • Pins protein, Drosophila
  • insc protein, Drosophila
  • GTP-Binding Proteins
  • Heterotrimeric GTP-Binding Proteins