J Bioenerg Biomembr,
The genome of Saccharomyces cerevisiae encodes 35 members of a family proteins that transport metabolites and substrates across the inner membranes of mitochondria. They include three isoforms of the ADP/ATP translocase and the phosphate and citrate carriers. At the start of our work, the functions of the remaining 30 members of the family were unknown. We are attempting to identify these 30 proteins by overexpression of the proteins in specially selected host strains of Escherichia coli that allow the carriers to accumulate at high levels in the form of inclusion bodies. The purified proteins are then reconstituted into proteoliposomes where their transport properties are studied. Thus far, we have identified the dicarboxylate, succinate-fumarate and ornithine carriers. Bacterial overexpression and functional identification, together with characterization of yeast knockout strains, has brought insight into the physiological significance of these transporters. The yeast dicarboxylate carrier sequence has been used to identify the orthologous protein in Caenorhabditis elegans and, in turn, this latter sequence has been used to establish the sequence of the human ortholog.
Heterotrimeric G proteins, composed of alpha , beta , and gamma subunits, are able to transduce signals from membrane receptors to a wide variety of intracellular effectors. In this role, G proteins effectively function as dimers since the signal is communicated either by the G alpha subunit or the stable G betagamma complex. When inactive, G alpha -GDP associates with G betagamma and the cytoplasmic portion of the receptor. Ligand activation of the receptor stimulates an exchange of GTP for GDP resulting in the active signaling molecules G alpha -GTP and free G betagamma , either of which can interact with effectors. Hydrolysis of GTP restores G alpha -GDP, which then reassociates with G betagamma and receptor to terminate signaling. The rate of G protein activation can be enhanced by the guanine-nucleotide exchange factor, RIC-8 , while the rate of GTP hydrolysis can be enhanced by RGS proteins such as EGL-10 and EAT-16 . Evidence for a receptor-independent G-protein-signaling pathway has been demonstrated in C. elegans early embryogenesis. In this pathway, the G alpha subunits GOA-1 and GPA-16 are apparently activated by the non-transmembrane proteins GPR-1 , GPR-2 , and RIC-8 , and negatively regulated by RGS-7 . The C. elegans genome encodes 21 G alpha , 2 G beta and 2 G gamma subunits. The alpha subunits include one ortholog of each mammalian G alpha family: GSA-1 (Gs), GOA-1 (Gi/o), EGL-30 (Gq) and GPA-12 (G12). The remaining C. elegans alpha subunits ( GPA-1 , GPA-2 , GPA-3 , GPA-4 , GPA-5 , GPA-6 , GPA-7 , GPA-8 , GPA-9 , GPA-10 , GPA-11 , GPA-13 , GPA-14 , GPA-15 , GPA-16 , GPA-17 and ODR-3 ) are most similar to the Gi/o family, but do not share sufficient homology to allow classification. The conserved G alpha subunits, with the exception of GPA-12 , are expressed broadly while 14 of the new G alpha genes are expressed in subsets of chemosensory neurons. Consistent with their expression patterns, the conserved C. elegans alpha subunits, GSA-1 , GOA-1 and EGL-30 are involved in diverse and fundamental aspects of development and behavior. GOA-1 acts redundantly with GPA-16 in positioning of the mitotic spindle in early embryos. EGL-30 and GSA-1 are required for viability starting from the first larval stage. In addition to their roles in development and behaviors such as egg laying and locomotion, the EGL-30 , GSA-1 and GOA-1 pathways interact in a network to regulate acetylcholine release by the ventral cord motor neurons. EGL-30 provides the core signals for vesicle release, GOA-1 negatively regulates the EGL-30 pathway, and GSA-1 modulates this pathway, perhaps by providing positional cues. Constitutively activated GPA-12 affects pharyngeal pumping. The G alpha subunits unique to C. elegans are primarily involved in chemosensation. The G beta subunit, GPB-1 , as well as the G gamma subunit, GPC-2 , appear to function along with the alpha subunits in the classic G protein heterotrimer. The remaining G beta subunit, GPB-2 , is thought to regulate the function of certain RGS proteins, while the remaining G gamma subunit, GPC-1 , has a restricted role in chemosensation. The functional difference for most G protein pathways in C. elegans, therefore, resides in the alpha subunit. Many cells in C. elegans express multiple G alpha subunits, and multiple G protein pathways are known to function in specific cell types. For example, Go, Gq and Gs-mediated signaling occurs in the ventral cord motor neurons. Similarly, certain amphid neurons use multiple G protein pathways to both positively and negatively regulate chemosensation. C. elegans thus provides a powerful model for the study of interactions between and regulation of G protein signaling.