In the 1960s Rodbell demonstrated that a cell's response to a chemical
signal involves not only a receptor for the signal at the cell's surface
and an amplifier that functions within the cell, as was already known,
but also an intermediary molecule that transduces, or relays, the message
from receptor to amplifier. Gilman, working in the 1970s with mutant
cells that were unable to send signals properly, identified the intermediary
signaling molecule as a G protein, so named because it becomes activated
when bound to a molecule called guanosine triphosphate (GTP). Abnormally
functioning G proteins can disrupt the normal signal transduction process
and play a role in diseases such as cholera, cancer, and diabetes.
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