Calcium binding epidermal growth factor-like domains (cbEGFs) are present in many extracellular proteins, including fibrillin-1, Notch-3, protein S, factor IX and the low density lipoprotein (LDL) receptor, which perform a diverse range of functions. Genetic mutations that cause amino acid changes within these proteins have been linked to the Marfan syndrome (MFS), CADASIL, protein S deficiency, haemophilia B and familial hypercholesterolaemia, respectively. A number of these mutations disrupt calcium binding to cbEGFs, emphasising the critical functional role of calcium in these proteins. We have determined the calcium binding affinity of two sites within a cbEGF pair (cbEGF12-13) from human fibrillin-1 using two-dimensional nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and fluorescence techniques. Fibrillin-1 is a mosaic protein containing 43 cbEGF domains, mainly arranged as tandem repeats. Our results show that the cbEGF13 site in the cbEGF12-13 pair possesses the highest calcium affinity of any cbEGF investigated from fibrillin-1. A comparative analysis of these and previously reported calcium binding data from fibrillin-1 demonstrate that the affinity of cbEGF13 is enhanced more than 70-fold by the linkage of an N-terminal cbEGF domain. In contrast, comparison of calcium binding by cbEGF32 in isolation relative to when linked to a transforming growth factor beta-binding protein-like domain (TB6-cbEGF32) reveals that the same enhancement is not observed for this heterologous domain pair. Taken together, these results indicate that fibrillin-1 cbEGF Ca2+ affinity can be significantly modulated by the type of domain which is linked to its N terminus. The cbEGF12-13 pair is located within the longest contiguous section of cbEGFs in fibrillin-1, and a number of mutations in this region are associated with the most severe neonatal form of MFS. The affinities of cbEGF domains 13 and 14 in this region are substantially higher than in the C-terminal region of fibrillin-1. This increased affinity may be important for fibrillin assembly into 10-12 nm connective tissue microfibrils and/or may contribute to the biomechanical properties of the microfibrillar network.
Copyright 1999 Academic Press.