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Heterotrimeric G Proteins and Apoptosis: Intersecting Signaling Pathways Leading to Context Dependent Phenotypes

[ Vol. 9 , Issue. 5 ]


Vijay Yanamadala, Hideyuki Negoro and Bradley M. Denker   Pages 527 - 545 ( 19 )


Apoptosis, a programmed cell death mechanism, is a fundamental process during the normal development and somatic maintenance of all multicellular organisms and thus is highly conserved and tightly regulated through numerous signaling pathways. Apoptosis is of particular clinical importance as its dysregulation contributes significantly to numerous human diseases, primarily through changes in the expression and activation of key apoptotic regulators. Each of the four families of heterotrimeric G proteins (Gs, Gi/o, Gq/11 and G12/13) has been implicated in numerous cellular signaling processes, including proliferation, transformation, migration, differentiation, and apoptosis. Heterotrimeric G protein signaling is an important but not widely studied mechanism regulating apoptosis. G protein Signaling and Apoptosis broadly cover two large bodies of literature and share numerous signaling pathways. Examination of the intersection between these two areas is the focus of this review. Several studies have implicated signaling through each of the four heterotrimeric G protein families to regulate apoptosis within numerous disease contexts, but the mechanism(s) are not well defined. Each G protein family has been shown to stimulate and/or inhibit apoptosis in a context-dependent fashion through regulating numerous downstream effectors including the Bcl-2 family, NF-κB, PI3 Kinase, MAP Kinases, and small GTPases. These cell-type specific and G protein coupled receptor dependent effects have led to a complex body of literature of G protein regulation of apoptosis. Here, we review the literature and summarize apoptotic signaling through each of the four heterotrimeric G protein families (and the relevant G protein coupled receptors), and discuss limitations and future directions for research on regulating apoptosis through G protein coupled mechanisms. Continued investigation in this field is essential for the identification of important targets for pharmacological intervention in numerous diseases.


G proteins, cell death, apoptosis, signal transduction, cancer, ischemia, autoimmunity


Renal Division, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Institutes of Medicine, 77 Avenue Louis Pasteur, Boston, MA 02115, USA.

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