The small G proteins of the Arf family and their regulators

Annu Rev Cell Dev Biol. 2007;23:579-611. doi: 10.1146/annurev.cellbio.23.090506.123209.


Small G proteins play a central role in the organization of the secretory and endocytic pathways. The majority of such small G proteins are members of the Rab family, which are anchored to the bilayer by C-terminal prenyl groups. However, the recruitment of some effectors, including vesicle coat proteins, is mediated by a second class of small G proteins that is unique in having an N-terminal amphipathic helix that becomes available for membrane insertion upon GTP binding. Sar1, Arf1, and Arf6 are the best-characterized members of this ADP-ribosylation factor (Arf) family. In addition, all eukaryotes contain additional distantly related G proteins, often called Arf like, or Arls. The complete Arf family in humans has 29 members. The roles of these related G proteins are poorly understood, but recent work has shown that some are involved in membrane traffic or organizing the cytoskeleton. Here we review what is known about all the members of the Arf family, along with the known regulatory molecules that convert them between GDP- and GTP-bound states.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • ADP-Ribosylation Factors / chemistry
  • ADP-Ribosylation Factors / classification
  • ADP-Ribosylation Factors / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • GTP-Binding Protein Regulators / metabolism*
  • GTPase-Activating Proteins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Monomeric GTP-Binding Proteins / chemistry
  • Monomeric GTP-Binding Proteins / classification
  • Monomeric GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism*


  • GTP-Binding Protein Regulators
  • GTPase-Activating Proteins
  • ADP-Ribosylation Factors
  • Monomeric GTP-Binding Proteins