The prokaryotic Na +/Ca 2+ exchanger NCX_Mj transports Na + and Ca 2+ in a 3:1 stoichiometry

J Gen Physiol. 2018 Jan 2;150(1):51-65. doi: 10.1085/jgp.201711897. Epub 2017 Dec 13.


Intracellular Ca2+ signals control a wide array of cellular processes. These signals require spatial and temporal regulation of the intracellular Ca2+ concentration, which is achieved in part by a class of ubiquitous membrane proteins known as sodium-calcium exchangers (NCXs). NCXs are secondary-active antiporters that power the translocation of Ca2+ across the cell membrane by coupling it to the flux of Na+ in the opposite direction, down an electrochemical gradient. Na+ and Ca2+ are translocated in separate steps of the antiport cycle, each of which is thought to entail a mechanism whereby ion-binding sites within the protein become alternately exposed to either side of the membrane. The prokaryotic exchanger NCX_Mj, the only member of this family with known structure, has been proposed to be a good functional and structural model of mammalian NCXs; yet our understanding of the functional properties of this protein remains incomplete. Here, we study purified NCX_Mj reconstituted into liposomes under well-controlled experimental conditions and demonstrate that this homologue indeed shares key functional features of the NCX family. Transport assays and reversal-potential measurements enable us to delineate the essential characteristics of this antiporter and establish that its ion-exchange stoichiometry is 3Na+:1Ca2+ Together with previous studies, this work confirms that NCX_Mj is a valid model system to investigate the mechanism of ion recognition and membrane transport in sodium-calcium exchangers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Archaeal Proteins / metabolism*
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Ion Transport
  • Liposomes / metabolism
  • Sodium / metabolism
  • Sodium-Calcium Exchanger / metabolism*


  • Archaeal Proteins
  • Liposomes
  • Sodium-Calcium Exchanger
  • Sodium
  • Calcium