G proteins control diverse pathways of transmembrane signaling.
Hormones, neurotransmitters, and autacoids interact with specific receptors and thereby trigger a series of molecular events that ultimately produce their biological effects. These receptors, localized in the plasma membrane, carry binding sites for ligands as diverse as peptides (e.g., glucagon, neuropeptides), lipids (e.g., prostaglandins), nucleosides and nucleotides (e.g., adenosine), and amines (e.g., catecholamines, serotonin). These receptors do not interest directly with their respective downstream effector (i.e., an ion channel and/or an enzyme that synthesizes a second messenger); rather, they control one or several target systems via the activation of an intermediary guanine nucleotide-binding regulatory protein or G protein. G proteins serve as signal transducers, linking extracellularly oriented receptors to membrane-bound effectors. Traffic in these pathways is regulated by a GTP (on)-GDP (off) switch, which is regulated by the receptor. The combination of classical biochemistry and recombinant DNA technology has resulted in the discovery of many members of the G protein family. These approaches, complemented in particular by electrophysiological experiments, have also identified several effectors that are regulated by G proteins. We can safely assume that current lists of G proteins and the functions that they control are incomplete.
Freissmuth, M; Casey, PJ; Gilman, AG
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