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Cell Mol Life Sci. 2005 Mar;62(5):551-77.

G-protein signaling: back to the future.

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Department of Pharmacology, Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, and UNC Neuroscience Center, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 27599-7365, USA.


Heterotrimeric G-proteins are intracellular partners of G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). GPCRs act on inactive Galpha.GDP/Gbetagamma heterotrimers to promote GDP release and GTP binding, resulting in liberation of Galpha from Gbetagamma. Galpha.GTP and Gbetagamma target effectors including adenylyl cyclases, phospholipases and ion channels. Signaling is terminated by intrinsic GTPase activity of Galpha and heterotrimer reformation - a cycle accelerated by 'regulators of G-protein signaling' (RGS proteins). Recent studies have identified several unconventional G-protein signaling pathways that diverge from this standard model. Whereas phospholipase C (PLC) beta is activated by Galpha(q) and Gbetagamma, novel PLC isoforms are regulated by both heterotrimeric and Ras-superfamily G-proteins. An Arabidopsis protein has been discovered containing both GPCR and RGS domains within the same protein. Most surprisingly, a receptor-independent Galpha nucleotide cycle that regulates cell division has been delineated in both Caenorhabditis elegans and Drosophila melanogaster. Here, we revisit classical heterotrimeric G-protein signaling and explore these new, non-canonical G-protein signaling pathways.

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