Heterotrimeric GPCRs (G-protein-coupled receptors) form the largest group of integral membrane receptor proteins and mediate diverse physiological processes. In addition to signalling via heterotrimeric G-proteins, GPCRs can also signal by interacting with various small G-proteins to regulate downstream effector pathways. The small G-protein superfamily is structurally classified into at least five families: the Ras, Rho/Rac/cdc42, Rab, Sar1/Arf and Ran families. They are monomeric G-proteins with molecular masses over the range 20–30 kDa, which function as molecular switches to control many eukaryotic cell functions. Several studies have provided evidence of crosstalk between GPCRs and small G-proteins. It is well documented that GPCR signalling through heterotrimeric G-proteins can lead to the activation of Ras and Rho GTPases. In addition, RhoA, Rabs, ARFs and ARF GEFs (guanine nucleotide-exchange factors) can associate directly with GPCRs, and GPCRs may also function as GEFs for small GTPases. In this review, we summarize the recent progress made in understanding the interaction between GPCRs and small GTPases, focusing on understanding how the association of small G-proteins with GPCRs and GPCR-regulatory proteins may influence GPCR signalling and intracellular trafficking.

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