The role and specificity of guanine nucleotide binding proteins in receptor-effector coupling

Symp Soc Exp Biol. 1990;44:157-72.


Nine distinct alpha subunits of guanine nucleotide binding proteins (G-proteins) have now been identified by cDNA cloning. Each of these functions to allow transduction of information between hormone-activated receptors in the plasma membrane and effector systems which are either ion channels or enzymes which regulate the intracellular concentration of second messengers. As the individual G-proteins are highly similar in primary sequence, it is pertinent to ask what degree of specificity of interaction each of these display with the various receptors and effector systems. Specificity of tissue location defines that the rod and cone transducins (TD1 and TD2, respectively) act as the coupling proteins between rhodopsin and cone opsins and their cyclic nucleotide phosphodiesterase effectors and that G(olf) is the G-protein which tranduces signals from odorant receptors to adenylate cyclase in olfactory sensory neurones. However, many of the other identified G-proteins are co-expressed in a single tissue or cell. Whilst sensitivity to ADP-ribosylation catalysed by bacterial toxins from Bordetella pertussis and Vibrio cholerae has allowed a further subdivision of the G-protein family, this approach is limited as these toxins have multiple G-protein substrates. As the extreme C-terminus of the alpha subunit of each G-protein appears to be a key domain for the interactions of receptors and G-proteins we have generated a series of G-protein-selective antipeptide antisera against this region and then have used these antisera to attempt to interfere with receptor-G-protein coupling. With this approach we have been able to demonstrate that a delta opioid receptor-mediated inhibition of adenylate cyclase in neuroblastoma x glioma, NG108-15, cell membranes is transduced specifically by Gi2 and in the same cell that alpha 2 adrenergic inhibition of Ca2+ currents is transduced by Go. Similar strategies are likely to be of universal significance, for example in the identification of the G-protein (Gp) which regulates the receptor-mediated activation of phosphoinositidase C. Methods to allow pharmacological manipulation of the levels of expression of various G-proteins in the membranes of cells are also discussed. Such approaches are also likely to assist in the identification of G-proteins of defined functions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenylyl Cyclases / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Calcium Channels / metabolism
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • GTP-Binding Proteins / analysis
  • GTP-Binding Proteins / physiology*
  • Inositol 1,4,5-Trisphosphate / metabolism
  • Protein Binding
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Calcium Channels
  • Inositol 1,4,5-Trisphosphate
  • GTP-Binding Proteins
  • Adenylyl Cyclases