Organization of G proteins and adenylyl cyclase at the plasma membrane

Chunfa Huang, John R. Hepler, Linda T. Chen, Alfred G. Gilman, Richard G W Anderson, Susanne M. Mumby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

190 Scopus citations


There is mounting evidence for the organization and compartmentation of signaling molecules at the plasma membrane. We find that hormone-sensitive adenylyl cyclase activity is enriched in a subset of regulatory G protein- containing fractions of the plasma membrane. These subfractions resemble, in low buoyant density, structures of the plasma membrane termed caveolae. Immunofluorescence experiments revealed a punctate pattern of G protein α and β subunits, consistent with concentration of these proteins at distinct sites on the plasma membrane. Partial coincidence of localization of G protein α subunits with caveolin (a marker for caveolae) was observed by double immunofluorescence. Results of immunogold electron microscopy suggest that some G protein is associated with invaginated caveolae, but most of the protein resides in irregular structures of the plasma membrane that could not be identified morphologically. Because regulated adenylyl cyclase activity is present in low-density subfractions of plasma membrane from a cell type (S49 lymphoma) that does not express caveolin, this protein is not required for organization of the adenylyl cyclase system. The data suggest that hormone- sensitive adenylyl cyclase systems are localized in a specialized subdomain of the plasma membrane that may optimize the efficiency and fidelity of signal transduction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2365-2378
Number of pages14
JournalMolecular biology of the cell
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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