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Cell. 1996 Aug 23;86(4):619-29.

G proteins are required for spatial orientation of early cell cleavages in C. elegans embryos.

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The Netherlands Cancer Institute, Division of Molecular Biology, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Heterotrimeric G proteins are signal-transducing molecules activated by seven transmembrane domain receptors. In C. elegans, gpb-1 encodes the sole Gbeta subunit; therefore, its inactivation should affect all heterotrimeric G protein signaling. When maternal but no zygotic gpb-1 protein (GPB-1) is present, development proceeds until the first larval stage, but these larvae show little muscle activity and die soon after hatching. When, however, the maternal contribution of GPB-1 is also reduced, spindle orientations in early cell divisions are randomized. Cell positions in these embryos are consequently abnormal, and the embryos die with the normal number of cells and well-differentiated but abnormally distributed tissues. These results indicate that maternal G proteins are important for orientation of early cell division axes, possibly by coupling a membrane signal to centrosome position.

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