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Cell. 2001 Oct 19;107(2):183-94.

Heterotrimeric G proteins direct two modes of asymmetric cell division in the Drosophila nervous system.

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Research Institute of Molecular Pathology (I.M.P.), Dr. Bohr Gasse 7, 1030 Vienna, Austria.


In Drosophila, distinct mechanisms orient asymmetric cell division along the apical-basal axis in neuroblasts and along the anterior-posterior axis in sensory organ precursor (SOP) cells. Here, we show that heterotrimeric G proteins are essential for asymmetric cell division in both cell types. The G protein subunit G(alpha)i localizes apically in neuroblasts and anteriorly in SOP cells before and during mitosis. Interfering with G protein function by G(alpha)i overexpression or depletion of heterotrimeric G protein complexes causes defects in spindle orientation and asymmetric localization of determinants. G(alpha)i is colocalized and associated with Pins, a protein that induces the release of the betagamma subunit and might act as a receptor-independent G protein activator. Thus, asymmetric activation of heterotrimeric G proteins by a receptor-independent mechanism may orient asymmetric cell divisions in different cell types.

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