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Sci Signal. 2011 Nov 22;4(200):ra79. doi: 10.1126/scisignal.2002223.

Ric-8 proteins are molecular chaperones that direct nascent G protein α subunit membrane association.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology and Physiology, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY 14642, USA.


Ric-8A (resistance to inhibitors of cholinesterase 8A) and Ric-8B are guanine nucleotide exchange factors that enhance different heterotrimeric guanine nucleotide-binding protein (G protein) signaling pathways by unknown mechanisms. Because transgenic disruption of Ric-8A or Ric-8B in mice caused early embryonic lethality, we derived viable Ric-8A- or Ric-8B-deleted embryonic stem (ES) cell lines from blastocysts of these mice. We observed pleiotropic G protein signaling defects in Ric-8A(-/-) ES cells, which resulted from reduced steady-state amounts of Gα(i), Gα(q), and Gα(13) proteins to <5% of those of wild-type cells. The amounts of Gα(s) and total Gβ protein were partially reduced in Ric-8A(-/-) cells compared to those in wild-type cells, and only the amount of Gα(s) was reduced substantially in Ric-8B(-/-) cells. The abundances of mRNAs encoding the G protein α subunits were largely unchanged by loss of Ric-8A or Ric-8B. The plasma membrane residence of G proteins persisted in the absence of Ric-8 but was markedly reduced compared to that in wild-type cells. Endogenous Gα(i) and Gα(q) were efficiently translated in Ric-8A(-/-) cells but integrated into endomembranes poorly; however, the reduced amounts of G protein α subunits that reached the membrane still bound to nascent Gβγ. Finally, Gα(i), Gα(q), and Gβ(1) proteins exhibited accelerated rates of degradation in Ric-8A(-/-) cells compared to those in wild-type cells. Together, these data suggest that Ric-8 proteins are molecular chaperones required for the initial association of nascent Gα subunits with cellular membranes.

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