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Science. 1991 May 10;252(5007):802-8.

Diversity of G proteins in signal transduction.

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  • 1Division of Biology, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena 91125.


The heterotrimeric guanine nucleotide-binding proteins (G proteins) act as switches that regulate information processing circuits connecting cell surface receptors to a variety of effectors. The G proteins are present in all eukaryotic cells, and they control metabolic, humoral, neural, and developmental functions. More than a hundred different kinds of receptors and many different effectors have been described. The G proteins that coordinate receptor-effector activity are derived from a large gene family. At present, the family is known to contain at least sixteen different genes that encode the alpha subunit of the heterotrimer, four that encode beta subunits, and multiple genes encoding gamma subunits. Specific transient interactions between these components generate the pathways that modulate cellular responses to complex chemical signals.

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