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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Apr 1989; 86(8): 2577–2581.
PMCID: PMC286960

Pertussis toxin induces structural changes in G alpha proteins independently of ADP-ribosylation.


Pertussis toxin catalyzes ADP-ribosylation of a family of GTP-binding proteins (G alpha proteins) involved in signal transduction. It is thought that this activity is responsible for the attenuating effects of the toxin on the actions of a number of hormones and neurotransmitters. By utilizing specific antisera for detecting on electrophoretic transfer blots (Western blots) alpha proteins that are subject to ADP-ribosylation, it was found that treatment of these proteins with pertussis toxin resulted in shifts in their electrophoretic mobility and marked enhancement of their immunoreactivity compared to untreated proteins. No changes in mobility or immunoreactivity with specific antisera were observed with beta subunits of G proteins. Both effects on alpha proteins required the same ingredients, including detergents, ATP, and sulfhydryl reducing agents, that other studies have shown are required for activation of the ADP-ribosylating activity of pertussis toxin. However, NAD+, the substrate for ADP-ribosylating activity, was not required. Moreover, inhibition of the ADP-ribosylating activity by 50 mM nicotinamide failed to block the NAD-independent effects of the toxin. These findings indicate that the toxin induces structural changes in alpha proteins independently of its ADP-ribosylating activity and raise the possibility that these structural changes are primary to ADP-ribosylation and causative of many of the biological effects of pertussis toxin.

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Selected References

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