A sweet cycle for Arabidopsis G-proteins: Recent discoveries and controversies in plant G-protein signal transduction

Christopher A. Johnston, Melinda D. Willard, Adam J. Kimple, David P. Siderovski, Francis S. Willard

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Heterotrimeric G-proteins are a class of signal transduction proteins highly conserved throughout evolution that serve as dynamic molecular switches regulating the intracellular communication initiated by extracellular signals including sensory information. This property is achieved by a guanine nucleotide cycle wherein the inactive, signaling-incompetent Gα subunit is normally bound to GDP; activation to signaling-competent Gα occurs through the exchange of GDP for GTP (typically catalyzed via seven-transmembrane domain G-protein coupled receptors [GPCRs]), which dissociates the Gβγ dimer from Gα·GTP and initiates signal transduction. The hydrolysis of GTP, greatly accelerated by "Regulator of G-protein Signaling" (RGS) proteins, returns Gα to its inactive GDP-bound form and terminates signaling. Through extensive characterization of mammalian Gα isoforms, the rate-limiting step in this cycle is currently considered to be the GDP/GTP exchange rate, which can be orders of magnitude slower than the GTP hydrolysis rate. However, we have recently demonstrated that, in Arabidopsis, the guanine nucleotide cycle appears to be limited by the rate of GTP hydrolysis rather than nucleotide exchange. This finding has important implications for the mechanism of sugar sensing in Arabidopsis. We also discuss these data on Arabidopsis G-protein nucleotide cycling in relation to recent reports of putative plant GPCRs and heterotrimeric G-protein effectors in Arabidopsis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1067-1076
Number of pages10
JournalPlant Signaling and Behavior
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2008


  • Arabidopsis
  • G-protein
  • Glucose
  • Nucleotide exchange
  • RGS protein


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