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Biophys J. 2007 Aug 1;93(3):834-45. Epub 2007 May 11.

Functional modularity of the beta-subunit of voltage-gated Ca2+ channels.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Columbia University, New York, New York 10027, USA.


The beta-subunit of voltage-gated Ca(2+) channels plays a dual role in chaperoning the channels to the plasma membrane and modulating their gating. It contains five distinct modular domains/regions, including the variable N- and C-terminus, a conserved Src homology 3 (SH3) domain, a conserved guanylate kinase (GK) domain, and a connecting variable and flexible HOOK region. Recent crystallographic studies revealed a highly conserved interaction between the GK domain and alpha interaction domain (AID), the high-affinity binding site in the pore-forming alpha(1) subunit. Here we show that the AID-GK domain interaction is necessary for beta-subunit-stimulated Ca(2+) channel surface expression and that the GK domain alone can carry out this function. We also examined the role of each region of all four beta-subunit subfamilies in modulating P/Q-type Ca(2+) channel gating and demonstrate that the beta-subunit functions modularly. Our results support a model that the conserved AID-GK domain interaction anchors the beta-subunit to the alpha(1) subunit, enabling alpha(1)-beta pair-specific low-affinity interactions involving the N-terminus and the HOOK region, which confer on each of the four beta-subunit subfamilies its distinctive modulatory properties.

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