Gq mediates hormonal stimulation of phosphoinositide-specific phospholipase C (PI-PLC). We mutated the alpha subunit of Gq (alpha q) to replace arginine 183 with cysteine. Mutations that substitute cysteine for the corresponding arginine residues of alpha s and alpha i2 constitutively activate their respective effector pathways, creating the gsp and gip2 oncogenes. Transient expression of alpha q-R183C in COS-7 and HEK-293 cells constitutively activates PI-PLC, but wild type (WT) alpha q does not. This suggests that the mutated arginines in alpha s, alpha i2, and alpha q share a common function in regulating the active state of these proteins and that the alpha q gene may serve as a target for oncogenic mutations in human tumors. In an attempt to develop an assay for receptor stimulation of recombinant alpha q, we co-expressed receptors with alpha q-WT. We found that the alpha 2-adrenoceptor stimulates PI-PLC activation in HEK-293 cells in a fashion that depends completely on co-expression of alpha q-WT. These findings create an experimental model, similar to that provided for alpha s by S49 cyc- cells, that should make it possible to analyze receptor and effector coupling by mutant alpha q against a null background.