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J Biol Chem. 2002 Nov 15;277(46):43771-7. Epub 2002 Sep 10.

Expression of calcineurin B homologous protein 2 protects serum deprivation-induced cell death by serum-independent activation of Na+/H+ exchanger.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Physiology, National Cardiovascular Center Research Institute, Fujishiro-dai 5-7-1, Suita, Osaka 565-8565, Japan.


The calcineurin B homologous protein (designated CHP1) has been shown to be a common essential cofactor for the plasma membrane Na(+)/H(+) exchangers (NHEs) (Pang, T., Su, X., Wakabayashi, S., and Shigekawa, M. (2001) J. Biol. Chem. 276, 17367-17372). In this study, we characterized the function of another isoform of CHP (designated CHP2) that has a 61% amino acid identity with CHP1. CHP2, like CHP1, conferred the ability to NHEs 1-3 to express a high exchange activity by binding to the juxtamembrane region of the cytoplasmic domain of the exchanger, but it interacts more strongly (approximately 5-fold) with NHE1 than does CHP1. Although CHP1 is expressed ubiquitously at relatively high levels, CHP2 expression was extremely low in most human tissues but was higher in tumor cells. We produced stable cell clones overexpressing either CHP1 or CHP2 in which one of them is predominantly bound to NHE1. Serum (10%) induced a significant cytoplasmic alkalinization (0.1-0.2 pH unit) in cells co-expressing CHP1 and NHE1 but not in cells co-expressing CHP2 and NHE1. In the latter, pH(i) was high (7.4-7.5) even in the absence of serum, suggesting that NHE1 was already activated. Surprisingly, most (>80%) of CHP2/NHE1 cells unlike CHP1/NHE1 cells were viable even after long serum starvation (>7 days). Thus, the expression of CHP2 appears to protect cells from serum deprivation-induced death by increasing pH(i). These properties of CHP2/NHE1 cells are similar to those of malignantly transformed cells. We propose that serum-independent activation of NHE1 by bound CHP2 is one of the key mechanisms for the maintenance of high pH(i) and the resistance to serum deprivation-induced cell death in malignantly transformed cells.

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