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FASEB J. 1991 Oct;5(13):2785-91.

Guanylyl cyclases, a growing family of signal-transducing enzymes.

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  • 1Institut für Pharmakologie, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany.


Guanylyl cyclases, which catalyze the formation of the intracellular signal molecule cyclic GMP from GTP, display structural features similar to other signal-transducing enzymes such as protein tyrosine-kinases and protein tyrosine-phosphatases. So far, three isoforms of mammalian membrane-bound guanylyl cyclases (GC-A, GC-B, GC-C), which are stimulated by either natriuretic peptides (GC-A, GC-B) or by the enterotoxin of Escherichia coli (GC-C), have been identified. These proteins belong to the group of receptor-linked enzymes, with different NH2-terminal extracellular receptor domains coupled to a common intracellular catalytic domain. In contrast to the membrane-bound enzymes, the heme-containing soluble guanylyl cyclase is stimulated by NO and NO-containing compounds and consists of two subunits (alpha 1 and beta 1). Both subunits contain the putative catalytic domain, which is conserved in the membrane-bound guanylyl cyclases and is found twice in adenylyl cyclases. Coexpression of the alpha 1- and beta 1-subunit is required to yield a catalytically active enzyme. Recently, another subunit of soluble guanylyl cyclase was identified and designated beta 2, revealing heterogeneity among the subunits of soluble guanylyl cyclase. Thus, different enzyme subunits may be expressed in a tissue-specific manner, leading to the assembly of various heterodimeric enzyme forms. The implications concerning the physiological regulation of soluble guanylyl cyclase are not known, but different mechanisms of soluble enzyme activation may be due to heterogeneity among the subunits of soluble guanylyl cyclase.

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