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J Mol Biol. 2007 May 18;368(5):1284-91. Epub 2007 Mar 15.

Molecular evolution and structural analysis of the Ca(2+) release-activated Ca(2+) channel subunit, Orai.

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Department of Cell Biology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina 27710, USA.


Depletion of intracellular Ca(2+) stores evokes Ca(2+) entry across the plasma membrane by inducing Ca(2+) release-activated Ca(2+) (CRAC) currents in many cell types. Recently, Orai and STIM proteins were identified as the molecular identities of the CRAC channel subunit and the endoplasmic reticulum Ca(2+) sensor, respectively. Here, extensive database searching and phylogenetic analysis revealed several lineage-specific duplication events in the Orai protein family, which may account for the evolutionary origins of distinct functional properties among mammalian Orai proteins. Based on similarity to key structural domains and essential residues for channel functions in Orai proteins, database searching also identifies a putative primordial Orai sequence in hyperthermophilic archaeons. Furthermore, modern Orai appears to acquire new structural domains as early as Urochodata, before divergence into vertebrates. The evolutionary patterns of structural domains might be related to distinct functional properties of Drosophila and mammalian CRAC currents. Interestingly, Orai proteins display two conserved internal repeats located at transmembrane segments 1 and 3, both of which contain key amino acids essential for channel function. These findings demonstrate biochemical and physiological relevance of Orai proteins in light of different evolutionary origins and will provide novel insights into future structural and functional studies of Orai proteins.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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