- W. Rosenthal
- G. Schultz
- Klinische Wochenschrift
- Klin Wochenschr 66 (12): 511-523
The vast majority of extracellular signals alters cell function by activating cell surface receptors. The transmembranous signalling process initiated by an activated receptor leads to the generation of an intracellular signal and eventually to a cellular response. In contrast to receptors that are permanently coupled to an enzyme or an ion channel representing the effector, a large number of surface receptors for hormones, neurotransmitters and receptors for exogenous chemical or physical stimuli reversibly interacts with membranous signal transduction components which, in turn, regulate intracellular messenger-generating effectors. The transducer molecules isolated so far form a family of guanine nucleotide-binding proteins (G- or N-proteins). All isolated G-proteins are composed of three different subunits (alpha, beta, gamma). The alpha-subunit, which is specific for the individual G-protein, binds and hydrolyzes GTP and is target of ADP-ribosylating bacterial toxins. Hormone-induced activation of a receptor causes interaction with the alpha-subunit of a G-protein and the exchange of bound GDP with GTP. The GTP-bound form of the alpha-subunit represents the active form of the G-protein, which is capable of stimulating or inhibiting the respective effector. The active state of the alpha-subunit is terminated by its inherent GTPase activity causing hydrolysis of bound GTP. The beta gamma-complexes of G-proteins are structurally very similar and functionally interchangeable; they appear to dissociate from the alpha-subunits during receptor activation of the G-protein. Possible functions of the beta gamma-complex are to anchor the non-activated G-protein in the membrane, to facilitate G-protein-receptor interaction, and to promote the inactive state of the alpha-subunit. G-protein-regulated effectors include enzymes, ion channels and probably transporters. The best studied G-protein-regulated enzyme is the retinal cyclic GMP-phosphodiesterase which is activated by bleached rhodopsin via the tissue-specific G-protein, termed transducin. The ubiquitously occurring membrane-bound adenylate cyclase is under dual control by families of stimulatory and inhibitory receptors, acting via G-proteins called Gs and Gi, respectively. Moreover, the receptor control of phospholipases A2 and C and probably of phospholipase D most likely involves G-proteins which have not yet been identified. Finally, the activity of NADPH oxidase of neutrophils and that of cyclic AMP phosphodiesterases in liver and fat cells may be regulated via G-proteins. Modulations of non-enzymatic effectors are reviewed elsewhere.