Upon their discovery, β-arrestins 1 and 2 were named for their capacity to sterically hinder the G protein coupling of agonist-activated seven-transmembrane receptors, ultimately resulting in receptor desensitization. Surprisingly, recent evidence shows that β-arrestins can also function to activate signaling cascades independently of G protein activation. By serving as multiprotein scaffolds, the β-arrestins bring elements of specific signaling pathways into close proximity. β-Arrestin regulation has been demonstrated for an ever-increasing number of signaling molecules, including the mitogen-activated protein kinases ERK, JNK, and p38 as well as Akt, PI3 kinase, and RhoA. In addition, investigators are discovering new roles for β-arrestins in nuclear functions. Here, we review the signaling capacities of these versatile adapter molecules and discuss the possible implications for cellular processes such as chemotaxis and apoptosis.


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