cGMP: Generators, Effectors and Therapeutic Implications

Volume 191 of the series Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology pp 47-69

Function and Dysfunction of Mammalian Membrane Guanylyl Cyclase Receptors: Lessons from Genetic Mouse Models and Implications for Human Diseases

  • Michaela KuhnAffiliated withInstitut für Physiologie, Universität Würzburg

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Besides soluble guanylyl cyclase (GC), the receptor for NO, there are seven plasma membrane forms of guanylyl cyclase (GC) receptors, enzymes that synthesize the second-messenger cyclic GMP (cGMP). All membrane GCs (GC-A to GC-G) share a basic topology, which consists of an extracellular ligand binding domain, a short transmembrane region, and an intracellular domain that contains the catalytic (GC) region. Although the presence of the extracellular domain suggests that all these enzymes function as receptors, specific ligands have been identified for only four of them (GC-A through GC-D). GC-A mediates the endocrine effects of atrial and B-type natriuretic peptides regulating arterial blood pressure and volume homeostasis and also local antihypertrophic and antifibrotic actions in the heart. GC-B, the specific receptor for C-type natriuretic peptide, has a critical role in endochondral ossification. GC-C mediates the effects of guanylin and uroguanylin on intestinal electrolyte and water transport and epithelial cell growth and differentiation. GC-E and GC-F are colocalized within the same photoreceptor cells of the retina and have an important role in phototransduction. Finally, GC-D and GC-G appear to be pseudogenes in the human. In rodents, GC-D is exclusively expressed in the olfactory neuroepithelium, with chemosensory functions. GC-G is the last member of the membrane GC form to be identified. No other mammalian transmembrane GCs are predicted on the basis of gene sequence repositories. In contrast to the other orphan receptor GCs, GC-G has a broad tissue distribution in rodents, including the lung, intestine, kidney, skeletal muscle, and sperm, raising the possibility that there is another yet to be discovered family of cGMP-generating ligands. This chapter reviews the structure and functions of membrane GCs, with special focus on the insights gained to date from genetically modified mice and the role of alterations of these ligand/receptor systems in human diseases.