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Biochem J. 2001 Jun 15;356(Pt 3):665-83.

What the structure of a calcium pump tells us about its mechanism.

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Division of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, School of Biological Sciences, University of Southampton, Southampton SO16 7PX, UK.


The report of the crystal structure of the Ca(2+)-ATPase of skeletal muscle sarcoplasmic reticulum in its Ca(2+)-bound form [Toyoshima, Nakasako and Ogawa (2000) Nature (London) 405, 647-655] provides an opportunity to interpret much kinetic and mutagenic data on the ATPase in structural terms. There are no large channels leading from the cytoplasmic surface to the pair of high-affinity Ca(2+) binding sites within the transmembrane region. One possible access pathway involves the charged residues in transmembrane alpha-helix M1, with a Ca(2+) ion passing through the first site to reach the second site. The Ca(2+)-ATPase also contains a pair of binding sites for Ca(2+) that are exposed to the lumen. In the four-site model for transport, phosphorylation of the ATPase leads to transfer of the two bound Ca(2+) ions from the cytoplasmic to the lumenal pair of sites. In the alternating four-site model for transport, phosphorylation leads to release of the bound Ca(2+) ions directly from the cytoplasmic pair of sites, linked to closure of the pair of lumenal binding sites. The lumenal pair of sites could involve a cluster of conserved acidic residues in the loop between M1 and M2. Since there is no obvious pathway from the high-affinity sites to the lumenal surface of the membrane, transport of Ca(2+) ions must involve a significant change in the packing of the transmembrane alpha-helices. The link between the phosphorylation domain and the pair of high-affinity Ca(2+) binding sites is probably provided by two small helices, P1 and P2, in the phosphorylation domain, which contact the loop between transmembrane alpha-helices M6 and M7.

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