Molecular Physiology of Membrane Guanylyl Cyclase Receptors

Physiol Rev. 2016 Apr;96(2):751-804. doi: 10.1152/physrev.00022.2015.


cGMP controls many cellular functions ranging from growth, viability, and differentiation to contractility, secretion, and ion transport. The mammalian genome encodes seven transmembrane guanylyl cyclases (GCs), GC-A to GC-G, which mainly modulate submembrane cGMP microdomains. These GCs share a unique topology comprising an extracellular domain, a short transmembrane region, and an intracellular COOH-terminal catalytic (cGMP synthesizing) region. GC-A mediates the endocrine effects of atrial and B-type natriuretic peptides regulating arterial blood pressure/volume and energy balance. GC-B is activated by C-type natriuretic peptide, stimulating endochondral ossification in autocrine way. GC-C mediates the paracrine effects of guanylins on intestinal ion transport and epithelial turnover. GC-E and GC-F are expressed in photoreceptor cells of the retina, and their activation by intracellular Ca(2+)-regulated proteins is essential for vision. Finally, in the rodent system two olfactorial GCs, GC-D and GC-G, are activated by low concentrations of CO2and by peptidergic (guanylins) and nonpeptidergic odorants as well as by coolness, which has implications for social behaviors. In the past years advances in human and mouse genetics as well as the development of sensitive biosensors monitoring the spatiotemporal dynamics of cGMP in living cells have provided novel relevant information about this receptor family. This increased our understanding of the mechanisms of signal transduction, regulation, and (dys)function of the membrane GCs, clarified their relevance for genetic and acquired diseases and, importantly, has revealed novel targets for therapies. The present review aims to illustrate these different features of membrane GCs and the main open questions in this field.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Cyclic GMP / metabolism
  • Diarrhea / enzymology
  • Epithelium / physiology
  • Genetic Pleiotropy
  • Humans
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Myocardium / metabolism
  • Natriuretic Peptides / metabolism*
  • Olfactory Receptor Neurons / enzymology
  • Photoreceptor Cells, Vertebrate / enzymology
  • Receptors, Guanylate Cyclase-Coupled / metabolism*


  • Natriuretic Peptides
  • Receptors, Guanylate Cyclase-Coupled
  • Cyclic GMP