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Biophys J. 2004 Aug;87(2):899-906.

Conformational changes of the Ca(2+) regulatory site of the Na(+)-Ca(2+) exchanger detected by FRET.

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Cardiovascular Research Laboratories, and Department of Physiology, David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, California 90095-1760, USA.


The Na(+)-Ca(2+) exchanger is a plasma membrane protein expressed at high levels in cardiomyocytes. It extrudes 1 Ca(2+) for 3 Na(+) ions entering the cell, regulating intracellular Ca(2+) levels and thereby contractility. Na(+)-Ca(2+) exchanger activity is regulated by intracellular Ca(2+), which binds to a region (amino acids 371-508) within the large cytoplasmic loop between transmembrane segments 5 and 6. Regulatory Ca(2+) activates the exchanger and removes Na(+)-dependent inactivation. The physiological role of intracellular Ca(2+) regulation of the exchanger is not yet established. Yellow (YFP) and cyan (CFP) fluorescent proteins were linked to the NH(2)- and CO(2)H-termini of the exchanger Ca(2+) binding domain (CBD) to generate a construct (YFP-CBD-CFP) capable of responding to changes in intracellular Ca(2+) concentrations by FRET efficiency measurements. The two fluorophores linked to the CBD are sufficiently close to generate FRET. FRET efficiency was reduced with increasing Ca(2+) concentrations. Titrations of Ca(2+) concentration versus FRET efficiency indicate a K(D) for Ca(2+) of approximately 140 nM, which increased to approximately 400 nM in the presence of 1 mM Mg(2+). Expression of YFP-CBD-CFP in myocytes, generated changes in FRET associated with contraction, suggesting that NCX is regulated by Ca(2+) on a beat-to-beat basis during excitation-contraction coupling.

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