Difference between cAMP and cGMP

Cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) and cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) are second messengers that act as regulators of cellular functions in both prokaryotes and eukaryotes. Biological processes mediated by these molecules include gene regulation, metabolism, memory and immune function.

Second messengers are intracellular molecules that are released in response to the first messengers. The second messengers trigger the signalling cascades in the cell. Other examples of the second messengers include calcium, inositol trisphosphate and diacylglycerol.

The cyclic nucleotides consist of a sugar, nitrogen base and a phosphate group like other nucleotides. The base is attached at the 1’ carbon of the sugar, and phosphate at the 5’ carbon of the sugar. The bond that makes the structure cyclic is the attachment of the phosphate group at the 3’ carbon of the sugar.

What is cAMP?

cAMP is a cyclic nucleotide that is a derivative of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). It is a second messenger that was discovered by Earl W. Sutherland. He was later awarded the Nobel Prize for his discovery.

cAMP is synthesised by ATP with the help of the enzyme adenylate cyclase. The cAMP molecule functions intracellularly to pass on the effects of hormones such as glucagon and adrenaline to the cell. It also activates protein kinases and is involved in the regulation of ion channels.

In bacterial cells, cAMP molecules increase the expression of several genes. For example, the lac operon of the bacteria is modulated by cAMP. In low glucose concentrations, cAMP binds to the activator protein, which in turn makes the placement of RNA polymerase on the operon easier and hence easy transcription.

What is cGMP?

cGMP is a cyclic nucleotide that is synthesised by guanosine triphosphate (GTP) with the help of the guanylate cyclase enzyme.

The functions of cGMP include phototransduction (the phenomenon of conversion of light energy to electrical energy in the retina so that the visual information can be sent to the brain), ion channel modulation, glycogenesis and apoptosis regulation.

cAMP vs cGMP



Full Form

Cyclic Adenosine Monophosphate

Cyclic Guanosine Monophosphate

Derivative of

It is the derivative of ATP.

It is the derivative of GTP.

Synthesised by

It is synthesised by the enzyme adenylate cyclase.

It is synthesised by the enzyme guanylate cyclase.


It has a shorter life.

It is synthesised slowly, giving it a longer life.


  • Hormone transduction
  • Lipid metabolism
  • Increased gene expression in bacteria
  • Phototransduction
  • Apoptosis regulation
  • Glycogenesis regulation

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Frequently Asked Questions


What are the similarities between cAMP and cGMP molecules?

Following are the points of similarities between cAMP and cGMP molecules:

  • Both are hydrophilic molecules.
  • Both are known to activate protein kinases.
  • Both are degraded to their NMP (Nucleotide Monophosphate) forms by the hydrolysis of their phosphodiester bond.
  • Both are monophosphates.

How is cGMP activated?

Nitric oxide (NO) activates cGMP, which in turn dilates the blood vessels.


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