The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is the reservoir for calcium in cells. Luminal calcium levels are determined by calcium-sensing proteins that trigger calcium dynamics in response to calcium fluctuations. Here we report that Selenoprotein N (SEPN1) is a type II transmembrane protein that senses ER calcium fluctuations by binding this ion through a luminal EF-hand domain. In vitro and in vivo experiments show that via this domain, SEPN1 responds to diminished luminal calcium levels, dynamically changing its oligomeric state and enhancing its redox-dependent interaction with cellular partners, including the ER calcium pump sarcoplasmic/endoplasmic reticulum calcium ATPase (SERCA). Importantly, single amino acid substitutions in the EF-hand domain of SEPN1 identified as clinical variations are shown to impair its calcium-binding and calcium-dependent structural changes, suggesting a key role of the EF-hand domain in SEPN1 function. In conclusion, SEPN1 is a ER calcium sensor that responds to luminal calcium depletion, changing its oligomeric state and acting as a reductase to refill ER calcium stores.
Keywords: SEPN1; calcium sensor; endoplasmic reticulum; stress of the endoplasmic reticulum.
Copyright © 2020 the Author(s). Published by PNAS.