ReviewG Proteins

Dissociation of Heterotrimeric G Proteins in Cells

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Sci. Signal.  24 Jun 2008:
Vol. 1, Issue 25, pp. re5
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.125re5

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Heterotrimeric G proteins dissociate into their component Gα and Gβγ subunits when these proteins are activated in solution. Until recently, it has not been known if subunit dissociation also occurs in cells. The development of optical methods to study G protein activation in live cells has made it possible to demonstrate heterotrimer dissociation at the plasma membrane. However, subunit dissociation is far from complete, and many active [guanosine triphosphate (GTP)–bound] heterotrimers are intact in a steady state. This unexpectedly reluctant dissociation calls for inclusion of a GTP-bound heterotrimeric state in models of the G protein cycle and places renewed emphasis on the relation between subunit dissociation and effector activation.

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