Population shift underlies Ca2+-induced regulatory transitions in the sodium-calcium exchanger (NCX)

J Biol Chem. 2013 Aug 9;288(32):23141-9. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M113.471698. Epub 2013 Jun 24.


In eukaryotic Na(+)/Ca(2+) exchangers (NCX) the Ca(2+) binding CBD1 and CBD2 domains form a two-domain regulatory tandem (CBD12). An allosteric Ca(2+) sensor (Ca3-Ca4 sites) is located on CBD1, whereas CBD2 contains a splice-variant segment. Recently, a Ca(2+)-driven interdomain switch has been described, albeit how it couples Ca(2+) binding with signal propagation remains unclear. To resolve the dynamic features of Ca(2+)-induced conformational transitions we analyze here distinct splice variants and mutants of isolated CBD12 at varying temperatures by using small angle x-ray scattering (SAXS) and equilibrium (45)Ca(2+) binding assays. The ensemble optimization method SAXS analysis demonstrates that the apo and Mg(2+)-bound forms of CBD12 are highly flexible, whereas Ca(2+) binding to the Ca3-Ca4 sites results in a population shift of conformational landscape to more rigidified states. Population shift occurs even under conditions in which no effect of Ca(2+) is observed on the globally derived Dmax (maximal interatomic distance), although under comparable conditions a normal [Ca(2+)]-dependent allosteric regulation occurs. Low affinity sites (Ca1-Ca2) of CBD1 do not contribute to Ca(2+)-induced population shift, but the occupancy of these sites by 1 mM Mg(2+) shifts the Ca(2+) affinity (Kd) at the neighboring Ca3-Ca4 sites from ∼ 50 nM to ∼ 200 nM and thus, keeps the primary Ca(2+) sensor (Ca3-Ca4 sites) within a physiological range. Thus, Ca(2+) binding to the Ca3-Ca4 sites results in a population shift, where more constraint conformational states become highly populated at dynamic equilibrium in the absence of global conformational transitions in CBD alignment.

Keywords: Allosteric Regulation; Calcium; Calcium-binding Proteins; Population Shift; Protein Conformation; Sodium-Calcium Exchange.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Binding Sites
  • Calcium / chemistry*
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Dogs
  • Molecular Dynamics Simulation*
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Sodium-Calcium Exchanger / chemistry*
  • Sodium-Calcium Exchanger / genetics
  • Sodium-Calcium Exchanger / metabolism


  • Sodium-Calcium Exchanger
  • sodium-calcium exchanger 1
  • Calcium