Signal transduction pathways that mediate C5a and fMet-Leu-Phe (fMLP)-induced pertussis toxin (PTx)-sensitive activation of phospholipase C (PLC) have been investigated using a cotransfection assay system in COS-7 cells. The abilities of the receptors for C5a and fMLP to activate PLC beta2 and PLC beta3 through the Gbetagamma subunits of endogenous Gi proteins in COS-7 cells were tested because both PLC beta2 and PLC beta3 were shown to be activated by the betagamma subunits of G proteins in in vitro reconstitution assays. Neither of the receptors can activate endogenous PLC beta3 or recombinant PLC beta3 in transfected COS-7 cells. However, both receptors can clearly activate PLC beta2 in a PTx-sensitive manner, suggesting that the receptors may interact with endogenous PTx-sensitive G proteins and activate PLC beta2 probably through the Gbetagamma subunits. These findings were further corroborated by the results that PLC beta3 could only be slightly activated by Gbeta1gamma1 or Gbeta1gamma5 in the cotransfection assay, whereas the Gbetagamma subunits strongly activated PLC beta2 under the same conditions. PLC beta3 can be activated by Galphaq, Galpha11, and Galpha16 in the cotransfection assay. In addition, the Ggamma2 and Ggamma3 mutants with substitution of the C-terminal Cys residue by a Ser residue, which can inhibit wild type Gbetagamma-mediated activation of PLC beta2, were able to inhibit C5a or fMLP-mediated activation of PLC beta2. These Ggamma mutants, however, showed little effect on m1-muscarinic receptor-mediated PLC activation, which is mediated by the Gq class of G proteins. These results all confirm that the Gbetagamma subunits are involved in PLC beta2 activation by the two chemoattractant receptors and suggest that in COS-7 cells activation of PLC beta3 by Gbetagamma may not be the primary pathway for the receptors.