Beta gamma dimers of G proteins inhibit atrial muscarinic K+ channels
Journal of Biological Chemistry
It has been proposed that beta gamma dimers of signal-transducing G proteins mediate muscarinic activation of atrial K+ channels. We examined this hypothesis by testing the effects of beta gamma dimers from four sources (human erythrocytes, human placenta, bovine brain, and bovine retina) on single channel muscarinic K+ (K+[acetylcholine (ACh)]) currents in inside-out membrane patches of adult guinea pig atria. None of the four beta gamma dimer preparations stimulated K+[ACh] currents; on the
... currents; on the contrary, each inhibited the currents whether the currents were activated with GTP alone (agonist-independent activity) or with GTP plus a muscarinic agonist (agonist-dependent activity). Detergents at concentrations used to suspend erythrocyte, brain, and placental beta gamma dimers had no effect by themselves, and detergents were not used with the retinal beta gamma dimers. We conclude that beta gamma dimers do not mediate stimulatory effects of the endogenous G protein that regulates the K+ channels. In fact beta gamma dimers appear to inhibit activation by the endogenous G alpha subunits. Further insight into the role of beta gamma dimers came from the observation that agonist-independent GTP-activated K+[ACh] currents were inhibited by beta gamma dimers at about one-tenth the concentration required to inhibit agonist-dependent activation. One possibility is that dimeric beta gamma may have a higher affinity for free alpha subunits than for alpha subunits associated with agonist-occupied receptors. Thus, in addition to the known requirement of beta gamma dimers for the interaction of alpha subunits with receptors, beta gamma dimers may also improve the signal-to-noise ratio for agonists by reducing agonist-independent background activities.