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J Biol Chem. 1991 Jul 25;266(21):13503-6.

Inhibition of the sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ transport ATPase by thapsigargin at subnanomolar concentrations.

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  • 1Department of Biological Chemistry, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore 21201.


ATP-dependent calcium uptake by isolated sarcoplasmic reticulum vesicles is inhibited by concentrations of free thapsigargin as low as 10(-10) M. This effect is due to primary inhibition of the Ca(2+)-dependent ATPase which is coupled to active transport. When binding of calcium to the activating sites of the enzyme is measured under equilibrium conditions in the absence of ATP, addition of thapsigargin produces strong inhibition. On the other hand, if [tau-32P]ATP is added to ATPase preincubated with Ca2+ under favorable conditions, significant levels of 32P-phosphorylated intermediate are still formed transiently, even in the presence of thapsigargin. The phosphoenzyme, however, decays rapidly as the calcium-enzyme complex is destabilized as a consequence of ATP utilization, and formation of the thapsigargin-enzyme complex is favored. Formation of the thapsigargin-enzyme complex is also favored by Ca2+ chelation with EGTA, with consequent inhibition of the enzyme reactivity to Pi (i.e. reverse of the ATPase hydrolytic reaction). Neither the Ca(2+)- and ATP-induced Ca2+ release from junctional sarcoplasmic reticulum nor the Ca(2+)- and calmodulin-dependent ATPase of plasma membranes (erythrocyte ghosts) were found to be altered by thapsigargin at such low concentrations.

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