G protein betagamma subunits as targets for small molecule therapeutic development

Comb Chem High Throughput Screen. 2008 Jun;11(5):382-95. doi: 10.2174/138620708784534761.


G proteins mediate the action of G protein coupled receptors (GPCRs), a major target of current pharmaceuticals and a major target of interest in future drug development. Most pharmaceutical interest has been in the development of selective GPCR agonists and antagonists that activate or inhibit specific GPCRs. Some recent thinking has focused on the idea that some pathologies are the result of the actions of an array of GPCRs suggesting that targeting single receptors may have limited efficacy. Thus, targeting pathways common to multiple GPCRs that control critical pathways involved in disease has potential therapeutic relevance. G protein betagamma subunits released from some GPCRs upon receptor activation regulate a variety of downstream pathways to control various aspects of mammalian physiology. There is evidence from cell- based and animal models that excess Gbetagamma signaling can be detrimental and blocking Gbetagamma signaling has salutary effects in a number of pathological models. Gbetagamma regulates downstream pathways through modulation of enzymes that produce cellular second messengers or through regulation of ion channels by direct protein-protein interactions. Thus, blocking Gbetagamma functions requires development of small molecule agents that disrupt Gbetagamma protein interactions with downstream partners. Here we discuss evidence that small molecule targeting Gbetagamma could be of therapeutic value. The concept of disruption of protein-protein interactions by targeting a "hot spot" on Gbetagamma is delineated and the biochemical and virtual screening strategies for identification of small molecules that selectively target Gbetagamma functions are outlined. Evaluation of the effectiveness of virtual screening indicates that computational screening enhanced identification of true Gbetagamma binding molecules. However, further refinement of the approach could significantly improve the yield of Gbetagamma binding molecules from this screen that could result in multiple candidate leads for future drug development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drug Design
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical* / methods
  • GTP-Binding Protein beta Subunits / chemistry
  • GTP-Binding Protein beta Subunits / metabolism*
  • GTP-Binding Protein gamma Subunits / chemistry
  • GTP-Binding Protein gamma Subunits / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Protein Binding / drug effects
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / chemistry*
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects


  • GTP-Binding Protein beta Subunits
  • GTP-Binding Protein gamma Subunits
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled