Tissue specificity and alternative splicing of the Na+/Ca2+ exchanger isoforms NCX1, NCX2, and NCX3 in rat

Am J Physiol. 1997 Apr;272(4 Pt 1):C1250-61. doi: 10.1152/ajpcell.1997.272.4.C1250.


The gene coding for the Na+/Ca2+ exchanger NCX1 is characterized by a cluster of six exons (A, B, C, D, E, and F) coding for a variable region in the COOH terminus of the large intracellular loop of the protein. Alternative splicing of these exons generates multiple tissue-specific variants of NCX1. Using reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction, we analyzed eight previously described and four new splicing isoforms of NCX1 in a wide variety of tissues and cells. Exons A and B are mutually exclusive, as shown in earlier studies, and splicing isoforms containing exon A are preferentially expressed in heart, brain, and skeletal muscle, whereas splicing variants with exon B are found in all rat tissues except heart. The second and third isoforms of the Na+/Ca2+ exchanger, NCX2 and NCX3, show a deletion of 37 amino acids in the intracellular loop corresponding to parts of the variable region of NCX1. We identified three splicing isoforms of NCX3 in brain and skeletal muscle by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction. These splice variants are generated by including either of two alternative exons equivalent to the NCX1 exon A or B and by including or excluding a sequence equivalent to the NCX1 exon C. We did not detect any alternative splicing of NCX2. We examined selected tissues from neonatal and adult rats and found developmental regulation for NCX1 and NCX3 splicing isoforms in skeletal muscle. Specific isoform patterns were also detected for NCX1 and NCX3 in cultured cortical neurons, astrocytes, and oligodendrocytes. We suggest a new terminology to distinguish the different splice variants of individual NCX isoforms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aging / metabolism
  • Alternative Splicing*
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / metabolism
  • Base Sequence
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics*
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Isomerism
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Oligodendroglia / metabolism
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Sodium-Calcium Exchanger
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • Carrier Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Sodium-Calcium Exchanger