K(+)-dependent Na(+)/Ca(2+) exchangers belong to the solute carrier 24 (SLC24A1-5) gene family of membrane transporters. Five different gene products (NCKX1-5) have been identified in humans, which play key roles in biological processes including vision, olfaction, and skin pigmentation. NCKXs are bi-directional membrane transporters that transport 1 Ca(2+)+K(+) ions in exchange for 4 Na(+) ions. Recent studies have linked mutations in the SLC24A4 (NCKX4) and SLC24A5 (NCKX5) genes to amylogenesis imperfecta (AI) and non-syndromic oculocutaneous albinism (OCA6), respectively. Here, we introduced mutations found in patients with AI and OCA6 into human SLC24A4 (NCKX4) cDNA leading to single residue substitutions in the mutant NCKX4 proteins. We measured NCKX-mediated Ca(2+) transport activity of WT and mutant NCKX4 proteins expressed in HEK293 cells. Three mutant NCKX4 cDNAs represent mutations found in the SCL24A4 gene and three represent mutations found in the SCL24A5 gene involving residues conserved between NCKX4 and NCKX5. Five mutant proteins had no observable NCKX activity, whereas one mutation resulted in a 78% reduction in transport activity. Total protein expression and trafficking to the plasma membrane (the latter with one exception) were not affected in the HEK293 cell expression system. We also analyzed two mutations in a Drosophila NCKX gene that have been reported to result in an increased susceptibility for seizures, and found that both resulted in mutant proteins with significantly reduced but observable NCKX activity. The data presented here support the genetic analyses that mutations in SLC24A4 and SLC24A5 are responsible for the phenotypic defects observed in human patients.
Keywords: enzyme mutation; genetic disease; human genetics; membrane transport; sodium-calcium exchange.
© 2016 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.