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Biochemistry. 2005 Dec 13;44(49):16181-91.

Essential role for Pro21 in phospholamban for optimal inhibition of the Ca-ATPase.

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Cell Biology and Biochemistry Group, Biological Sciences Division, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, Washington 99352, USA.


We have investigated the functional role of the flexible hinge region centered near the sequence TIEMP(21), which connects the N-terminal cytosolic and C-terminal membrane-spanning helical domains of phospholamban (PLB). Specifically, we ask if the conformation of this region is important to attain optimal inhibitory interactions with the Ca-ATPase. A genetically engineered PLB mutant was constructed in which Pro(21) was mutated to an alanine (P21A-PLB(C)); in this construct, all three transmembrane cysteines were substituted with alanines to stabilize the monomeric form of PLB, and a unique cysteine was introduced at position 24 near the hinge element (A24C), permitting the site-specific attachment of fluorescein-5-maleimide (FMal) to monitor structure changes. In agreement with prior measurements in cardiac SR microsomes, the calcium concentration associated with half-maximal activation (Ca(1/2)) of the Ca-ATPase, 290 +/- 10 nM, is shifted to 580 +/- 20 nM when co-reconstituted with PLB(C) (Pro21) as a result of a reduction in the cooperativity associated with the calcium-dependent structural transition. Kinetic simulations indicate that PLB(C) association with the Ca-ATPase results in a 75% reduction in the equilibrium constant associated with the formation of the second high-affinity calcium binding site. In comparison, there is a 43% reduction in KCa(1/2) upon reconstitution of the Ca-ATPase with P21A-PLB(C), which can be simulated by decreasing the equilibrium constant associated with the calcium-dependent structural activation by 50%. The diminished inhibitory action of P21A-PLB(C) is associated with alterations in the structure of the hinge element, as evidenced by the diminished solvent accessibility of FMal relative to the native structure. Likewise, increases in the alpha-helical content and decreases in the mobility of the carboxyl-terminal domain of P21A-PLB(C) are observed using circular dichroism and fluorescence spectroscopy. Collectively, these results indicate that the overall dimensions of the carboxyl-terminal domain of PLB are increased through a stabilization of secondary structural elements upon mutation in P21A-PLB(C) that result in a reduction in the ability of the amino-terminal cytosolic portion of PLB to productively inhibit the Ca-ATPase. Further, these results suggest that the unstructured characteristics of the flexible hinge region in PLB are critical for optimal inhibitory interactions with the Ca-ATPase and suggest its role as a conformational switch.

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