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J Biol Chem. 2004 Jul 16;279(29):30279-86. Epub 2004 May 10.

Visualization of G protein betagamma dimers using bimolecular fluorescence complementation demonstrates roles for both beta and gamma in subcellular targeting.

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The Weis Center for Research, Geisinger Clinic, Danville, Pennsylvania 17822-2623, USA.


To investigate the role of subcellular localization in regulating the specificity of G protein betagamma signaling, we have applied the strategy of bimolecular fluorescence complementation (BiFC) to visualize betagamma dimers in vivo. We fused an amino-terminal yellow fluorescent protein fragment to beta and a carboxyl-terminal yellow fluorescent protein fragment to gamma. When expressed together, these two proteins produced a fluorescent signal in human embryonic kidney 293 cells that was not obtained with either subunit alone. Fluorescence was dependent on betagamma assembly in that it was not obtained using beta2 and gamma1, which do not form a functional dimer. In addition to assembly, BiFC betagamma complexes were functional as demonstrated by more specific plasma membrane labeling than was obtained with individually tagged fluorescent beta and gamma subunits and by their abilities to potentiate activation of adenylyl cyclase by alpha(s) in COS-7 cells. To investigate isoform-dependent targeting specificity, the localization patterns of dimers formed by pair-wise combinations of three different beta subunits with three different gamma subunits were compared. BiFC betagamma complexes containing either beta1 or beta2 localized to the plasma membrane, whereas those containing beta5 accumulated in the cytosol or on intracellular membranes. These results indicate that the beta subunit can direct trafficking of the gamma subunit. Taken together with previous observations, these results show that the G protein alpha, beta, and gamma subunits all play roles in targeting each other. This method of specifically visualizing betagamma dimers will have many applications in sorting out roles for particular betagamma complexes in a wide variety of cell types.

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