Heterotrimeric G proteins (Galphabetagamma) transmit signals from activated G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) to downstream effectors through a guanine nucleotide signaling cycle. Numerous studies indicate that the carboxy-terminal alpha5 helix of Galpha subunits participates in Galpha-receptor binding, and previous EPR studies suggest this receptor-mediated interaction induces a rotation and translation of the alpha5 helix of the Galpha subunit [Oldham, W. M., et al. (2006) Nat. Struct. Mol. Biol. 13, 772-777]. On the basis of this result, an engineered disulfide bond was designed to constrain the alpha5 helix of Galpha(i1) into its EPR-measured receptor-associated conformation through the introduction of cysteines at position 56 in the alpha1 helix and position 333 in the alpha5 helix (I56C/Q333C Galpha(i1)). A functional mimetic of the EPR-measured alpha5 helix dipole movement upon receptor association was additionally created by introduction of a positive charge at the amino terminus of this helix, D328R Galpha(i1). Both proteins exhibit a dramatically elevated level of basal nucleotide exchange. The 2.9 A resolution crystal structure of I56C/Q333C Galpha(i1) in complex with GDP-AlF(4)(-) reveals the shift of the alpha5 helix toward the guanine nucleotide binding site that is anticipated by EPR measurements. The structure of the I56C/Q333C Galpha(i1) subunit further revealed altered positions for the switch regions and throughout the Galpha(i1) subunit, accompanied by significantly elevated crystallographic temperature factors. Combined with previous evidence in the literature, the structural analysis supports the critical role of electrostatics of the alpha5 helix dipole and overall conformational variability during nucleotide release.