Role of a conserved glutamine in the function of voltage-gated Ca2+ channels revealed by a mutation in human CACNA1D

J Biol Chem. 2018 Sep 14;293(37):14444-14454. doi: 10.1074/jbc.RA118.003681. Epub 2018 Jul 27.


Voltage-gated Cav Ca2+ channels play crucial roles in regulating gene transcription, neuronal excitability, and synaptic transmission. Natural or pathological variations in Cav channels have yielded rich insights into the molecular determinants controlling channel function. Here, we report the consequences of a natural, putatively disease-associated mutation in the CACNA1D gene encoding the pore-forming Cav1.3 α1 subunit. The mutation causes a substitution of a glutamine residue that is highly conserved in the extracellular S1-S2 loop of domain II in all Cav channels with a histidine and was identified by whole-exome sequencing of an individual with moderate hearing impairment, developmental delay, and epilepsy. When introduced into the rat Cav1.3 cDNA, Q558H significantly decreased the density of Ca2+ currents in transfected HEK293T cells. Gating current analyses and cell-surface biotinylation experiments suggested that the smaller current amplitudes caused by Q558H were because of decreased numbers of functional Cav1.3 channels at the cell surface. The substitution also produced more sustained Ca2+ currents by weakening voltage-dependent inactivation. When inserted into the corresponding locus of Cav2.1, the substitution had similar effects as in Cav1.3. However, the substitution introduced in Cav3.1 reduced current density, but had no effects on voltage-dependent inactivation. Our results reveal a critical extracellular determinant of current density for all Cav family members and of voltage-dependent inactivation of Cav1.3 and Cav2.1 channels.

Keywords: CACNA1D; Ca2+ channel; autism; calcium channel; calcium voltage-gated channel subunit alpha1 D; epilepsy; gating; hearing impairment; inactivation; intellectual disability; ion channel; modulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Calcium Channels, L-Type / chemistry
  • Calcium Channels, L-Type / genetics*
  • Calcium Channels, L-Type / physiology*
  • Calcium Signaling / physiology
  • Conserved Sequence
  • Glutamine / physiology*
  • Glycine / chemistry
  • Hearing Loss / genetics
  • Histidine / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Intellectual Disability / genetics
  • Ion Channel Gating / physiology
  • Mutation*
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology
  • Whole Exome Sequencing


  • CACNA1D protein, human
  • Calcium Channels, L-Type
  • Glutamine
  • Histidine
  • Glycine