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Gene. 2001 May 16;269(1-2):13-25.

Molecular biological approaches to unravel adenylyl cyclase signaling and function.

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Department of Pharmacology and the Vascular Biology Center of Excellence, University of Tennessee, Memphis, 874 Union Avenue, Memphis, TN 38163, USA.


Signal transduction through the cell membrane requires the participation of one or more plasma membrane proteins. For many transmembrane signaling events adenylyl cyclases (ACs) are the final effector enzymes which integrate and interpret divergent signals from different pathways. The enzymatic activity of adenylyl cyclases is stimulated or inhibited in response to the activation of a large number of receptors in virtually all cells of the human body. To date, ten different mammalian isoforms of adenylyl cyclase (AC) have been cloned and characterized. Each isoform has its own distinct tissue distribution and regulatory properties, providing possibilities for different cells to respond diversely to similar stimuli. The product of the enzymatic reaction catalyzed by ACs, cyclic AMP (cAMP) has been shown to play a crucial role for a variety of fundamental physiological cell functions ranging from cell growth and differentiation, to transcriptional regulation and apoptosis. In the past, investigations into the regulatory mechanisms of ACs were limited by difficulties associated with their purification and the availability of the proteins in any significant amount. Moreover, nearly every cell expresses several AC isoforms. Therefore, it was difficult to perform biochemical characterization of the different AC isoforms and nearly impossible to assess the physiological roles of the individual isoforms in intact cells, tissue or organisms. Recently, however, different molecular biological approaches have permitted several breakthroughs in the study of ACs. Recombinant technologies have allowed biochemical analysis of adenylyl cyclases in-vitro and the development of transgenic animals as well as knock-out mice have yielded new insights in the physiological role of some AC isoforms. In this review, we will focus mainly on the most novel approaches and concepts, which have delineated the mechanisms regulating AC and unravelled novel functions for this enzyme.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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