G proteins, (
guanine nucleotide-binding proteins)
, are a family of proteins involved in second messenger cascades, alternating between aninactive (GDP) and active (GTP) bound state, ultimately going on toregulate downstream cell processes. G proteins are important signaltransducing molecules in cellsG proteins belong to the larger group of enzymes called GTPases.
Types of G protein signaling
two distinct families of proteins.Heterotrimeric G proteins, ("large" G proteins) are activated by GPCR andmade up of alpha (α), beta (β), and gamma (γ) subunits.monomeric.
"small" G proteins
(20-25kDa). These proteins arehomologous to the alpha (α) subunit found in heterotrimers,Both bind GTP and GDP and are involved in signal transduction.
Heterotrimeric G proteins
Receptor-activated G proteins are bound to the inside surface of the cellmembrane. They consist of the G
and the tightly associated G
subunits.In order to associate with the inner leaflet of the plasma membrane, manyG proteins and small GTPases are lipidated, that is, covalently modifiedwith lipid extensions. They may be myristolated, palmitoylated or prenylated.Heterotrimeric G proteins share a common mode of action. Ligand bindingcauses activation, in response to a conformation change in the GPCR,exchange of GTP for GDP and dissociation in order to activate further proteins in the pathway. However, the specific mechanism differs betweendifferent types of G proteins.
As a ligand activates the GPCR, it induces a conformation change in thereceptor that allows the receptor to function as a guanine nucleotideexchange factor (GEF) that exchanges GDP for GTP on the G
subunit.This exchange triggers the dissociation of the G
subunit, bound to GTP,from the G
dimer and the receptor. Both G
-GTP and G
can thenactivate different
second messenger pathways
)and effector proteins, while the receptor is able to activate the next Gprotein.