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Discovery of G-proteins and the role of these proteins in signal transduction Martin Rodbell & Alfred G. Gilman. Wen-Chun Shaw Dr. VanKley Scientific Discovery. What is G-protein??. G-protein coupled receptor signaling. (A). (B). (C). (D). G-protein coupled receptor. GPCR and Disease.

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Discovery of G-proteins and the role of these proteins in signal transduction Martin Rodbell & Alfred G. Gilman

Wen-Chun Shaw

Dr. VanKley

Scientific Discovery


Cholera is caused by a comma-shaped bacterium, Vibrio cholerae, which is ingested in contaminated water and food. The bacteria multiply enormously in the intestine, where epithelial cells allow fluid to leak into the

intestine with intense diarrhoea as a result. Cholera is endemic in India and other parts of the third world.

The bacterium discovered by Robert Koch in 1884, can be killed by antibiotics, but the disease is caused by a bacterial toxin, which irreversibly activates the G proteins of epithelial cells in the intestine. This results in an often life-threatening loss of water and salts. From Koch\'s discovery of the cholera bacterium in 1884 it took researchers about 100 years to expose the real cause of the disease - the effect of the bacterial toxin on G proteins
inherited night blindness
Inherited Night Blindness
  • Scientists have found a G-protein defect in one type of inherited night blindness. Persons with this condition have a mutation in the gene that codes for the G-protein found in the eye\'s rod cells. Scientists believe that this defective G-protein is overactive. It stays turned on more than it normally would, and the person can\'t see well at low light levels.
mccune albright syndrome
McCune Albright Syndrome
  • named for the two physicians who described it over 50 years ago.
  • They reported a group of children, most of them girls, with an unusual pattern of associated abnormalities.
  • In this disease, a mutation occurs sometime after conception, affecting only some of the body\'s cells.
4. Scientists have found that the mutation affects the same G-protein involved in cholera. This G-protein gets active continuously.
5. Skin cells, this causes darker pigment.

6. Bone cells, it causes weakness and fractures.

7. Hormone-producing cells

the mutation causes

the release of excess


the nobel prize in physiology or medicine 1994
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1994
  • "for their discovery of G-proteins and the role of these proteins in signal transduction in cells"
1925 --born in Baltimore, Maryland, December 1st, son of Milton W. Rodbell, a grocery store owner
  • 1943 -1943 --enters The Johns Hopkins University; studies biology and French literature
  • 1944-1946 --education interrupted: drafted into the Navy; serves as a radio operator in the South Pacific, China, the Philippines, and Korea
  • 1949 --receives B.S. in biology, The Johns Hopkins University
  • 1949-50 --post-graduate study in chemistry at Hopkins
  • 1950 --marries Barbara Charlotte Ledermann; four children; seven grandchildren
1950 --moves to Seattle and enters Ph.D. program in biochemistry, University of Washington
  • 1954 --completes Ph.D. thesis, Lecithin Metabolism in the Liver, under Donald H. Hanahan
  • 1954-56 --postdoctoral position at U Illinois; research associate in biochemistry
  • 1956-61 National Heart Institute, NIH as research chemist in Laboratory of Cellular Physiology and Metabolism
  • 1960-61 --NIH-sponsored training at University of Brussels, Belgium, and Leiden University
1967-68 --Institute of Clinical Biochemistry, University of Geneva, professor and acting director
  • 1971 --publishes core of work on G-proteins in a series of articles in the Journal of Biological Chemistry
  • 1981-83 --Department of Clinical Biochemistry, University of Geneva, visiting professor
1985-89 --National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, scientific director
  • 1987 --inducted into the National Academy of Sciences; receives Richard Lounsbery Award.
  • 1989-94 --NIEHS, Section on Signal Transduction, chief
  • 1994 --retires; becomes NIH Scientist Emeritus; shares Nobel Prize with Alfred G. Gilman (announced Oct. 10, awarded Dec. 10)
  • 1998 --dies at Chapel Hill, December 7
the concept of receptor
The concept of receptor

Paul Enrlich (1854-1915).

his work on immunity

for which he was awarded

the Nobel Prize for Medicine

/Physiology in 1908

the development of selective

chemotherapeutic agents,

especially against syphilis and

the foundation of haematology

through his use of new dye staining techniques.

In his voluminous thesis, Ehrlich proposed that the reactions between aniline dyes and cells was a chemical rather than a physical interaction, that there was a specificity between the dye and the cell or tissue it stains, and further that the chemical structure of the dye molecule defined its solubility and ability to attach (bind) to cells. As others have noted , here was the seed of a receptor theory.

Lock and Key

isolation of single fat cells
Isolation of single Fat Cells
  • At that time, the only test medium available was crude chunks of fat tissue. No one can study the effect of hormones on individual cells.
  • Because fat floats, Rodbell first put the minced tissue in a liquid and then treated the floating cells with a substance called collagenase. Then, fat cells flaoted to the surface ,and the stromal-vascular cells (capillary, endothelial, mast, macrophage, and epithelial cells)were sedimented.
second messenger
Second Messenger
  • At that time, scientists knew that the adrenal gland produces epinephrine travels to body\'s cells and causes an increase in blood sugar. Let body have energy to react to stressful situations. But no one understood exactly how this hormone produced such an effect.
In the late 1950s, Sutherland investigated the effect of epinephrine on liver tissue. He discovered that the hormone—the "first" messenger—stimulates formation of a "second messenger" within cells. It is this second substance, cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP), that stimulates the breakdown of stored carbohydrate into sugar.
Rodbell realized that his isolated fat cells were the perfect medium for further investigation of the mechanism of hormone action.
metabolism of isolated fat cells
Metabolism of Isolated Fat Cells
  • Incubate isolated fat cells with Glucose-U-14C.
comparison between tissue and cells
Comparison between tissue and Cells

Group(I) Unfed, ON Group(II) fed

Finally, Martin Rodbell create a system to analyze hormone action in individual fat cells.
  • Even, different hormone can be used in this system.
Many researchers began using Rodbell\'s method, making "The Metabolism of Isolated Fat Cells" one of the most widely cited in the field.
demonstration of distinct hormone receptor
Demonstration of distinct Hormone Receptor
  • The various hormones were tested at maximal and submaximal concentrations alone or combinedwith the other hormones. Synergy was seen with some combinations, but, most importantly, additivity of response was not obtained with maximal concentrations of the hormones. Although not completely proof,they argued that it is likely that the fat cell cyclase system consists of multiple receptors interacting with a common catalytic unit.
Because of the experimental complexity of studying the multi-receptor adenylate cyclase system in rat adipocytes. Rodbell turned his attention to the glucagon-sensitive adenylate cyclase system in liver.
glucagon sensitive adenylate cyclase system in liver
Glucagon-sensitive adenylate cyclase system in liver.
  • Chromatography of 125I-Glucagon
  • Measurements of Adenyl Cyclase Activity-measured by the conversion of 32P-ATP to cyclic 5’-AMP
  • This system can investigate both the nature of the glucagon receptor and the relationship between hormone binding and hormonal activation of adenylate cyclase.
the actions of gtp and glucagon on liver cyclase
The actions of GTP and Glucagon on Liver Cyclase
  • Rodbell discovered that ATP could reverse the binding action of glucagon to the cell receptor and thus dissociate the glucagon from the cell altogether.
GTP could reverse the binding process almost one thousand times faster than ATP
  • This GTP, he found, stimulated the activity in the guanine nucleotide protein (later called the G-protein) in the cell
gtp hydrolysis
GTP Hydrolysis
  • A few months later, they found that Gpp(NH)p caused the enzyme’s activity to “take off’ to an extent not even seen.
general characteristics of guanine nucleotide action
General Characteristics of Guanine Nucleotide Action
  • a-subunit uniquely
  • capable of binding and degrading GTP and a tightly knit complex of b and
  • g subunits.




valuable g protein coupled recptor
Valuable G-protein coupled Recptor

GPCRs are good drug targets

50% of subscription drugs interact with GPCR

  • Hypertension
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Migraine
  • Allergies

GPCRs in disease states

  • Disease states associated with GPCR mutations
  • Rhodopsin receptor

retinitis pigmentosa

  • Vasopressin V2

nephrogenic diabetes

  • Glucagon

diabetes, hypertension

  • Metabolism of Isolated Fat Cells, Martin Rodbell, J. of Biol. Chem., , Vol.239, No. 2, February 1964
  • The Glucagon-sensitive Adenyl Cyclase System in Plasma Membranes of Rat Liver, J. OF Biol Chem., Vo1.246. No.6, pp. 1857-1869,1971, Lutz Birnbaumer, Stephen L. Pohl, and Martin Rodbell
The Fat Cell Adenylate Cyclase System, J. OF Biol Chem.,Vol 254 ,No.18, pp8927-8931, 1979, Dermot M. F. Cooper, Werner Schlegel, Michael C. Lin, end Martin Rodbell
  • The role of hormone receptors and GTP-regulatory proteins in membrane transduction, Nature, Vol. 284, No. 575 1, pp. 17-22. March 6 1980, Martin Rodbell
5\'-Guanylylimidodiphosphate, A Potent Activator Adenylate Cyclase Systems in Eukaryotic Cells, Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA Vol. 71, No. 8, pp. 3087-3090, August 1974, Constantine Londos, Yoram Salomon, And Martin Rodbell