1. Guanine nucleotide-binding proteins (G-proteins) play a central role in signal transduction between a wide variety of cell-surface receptors and intracellular second messenger systems. Recently, we and others have demonstrated that cross-regulation can occur between a variety of G-protein-linked receptors in human heart. Chronic β1-adrenoceptor blockade gives rise to sensitization of β2-adrenoceptor and of 5HT4-receptor responses, both of which are mediated via stimulation of adenylate cyclase through stimulatory G-proteins (Gs), and also gives rise to desensit-ization of muscarinic M2-receptor responses, which inhibit adenylate cyclase through inhibitory G-proteins (Gi).
2. In order to investigate whether these effects are due to quantitative changes in cardiac G-protein isoforms, we measured their abundance in right atrial appendage from patients taking or not taking β1-adrenoceptor antagonists, by immunoblotting.
3. Samples of right atrial appendage homogenate were subjected to SDS/PAGE, and proteins were electroblotted on to nitrocellulose membranes. These were then probed with specific anti-G protein anti-sera, and binding was revealed by means of a secondary antibody labelled with alkaline phosphatase and using a chromogenic substrate. The resulting bands were quantified by laser densitometry.
4. No quantitative differences were detected, between these two groups of patients, in the amounts of α-subunit of ‘long’ or ‘short’ Gs isoforms (GsαL and GsαS), or in the amounts of Gi 1 + 2 α-subunit (Giα1 + 2). Nor was any difference found in the abundance of the β-subunit of G-proteins. No ‘other’ G-protein (Go) was detectable in these samples by immunoblotting.
5. We conclude that the phenomenon of receptor cross-regulation which we have previously observed in human right atrial appendage is unlikely to be explained by quantitative changes at the G-protein level.