Nutrients, biological waste-products, toxins, pathogens, and other ligands for endocytosis are typically captured by multidomain receptors with multiligand specificity. Upon internalization, the receptor-ligand complex segregates, followed by lysosomal degradation of the ligand and recycling of the receptor. Endosomal acidification and calcium efflux lead to the essential ligand-receptor affinity switch and separation. Recent data, including crystal structures of receptor-ligand complexes, now reveal how calcium, in different types of domain scaffolds, functions in a common way as a removable 'lynchpin' that stabilizes favorable positioning of ligand-attractive receptor residues. In addition to explaining how calcium depletion can cause ligand-receptor dissociation, the new data add further insight into how acidification contributes to dissociation through structural changes that affect the receptor calcium sites.
Keywords: C-type lectin; CUB; EGF-like; LDL receptor; scavenger receptor.
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