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Biochemistry. 2007 Jul 24;46(29):8485-97. Epub 2007 Jun 30.

Displacement of alpha-actinin from the NMDA receptor NR1 C0 domain By Ca2+/calmodulin promotes CaMKII binding.

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Department of Pharmacology, Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1109, USA.


Ca2+ influx through the N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA)-type glutamate receptor triggers activation and postsynaptic accumulation of Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent kinase II (CaMKII). CaMKII, calmodulin, and alpha-actinin directly bind to the short membrane proximal C0 domain of the C-terminal region of the NMDA receptor NR1 subunit. In a negative feedback loop, calmodulin mediates Ca2+-dependent inactivation of the NMDA receptor by displacing alpha-actinin from NR1 C0 upon Ca2+ influx. We show that Ca2+-depleted calmodulin and alpha-actinin simultaneously bind to NR1 C0. Upon addition of Ca2+, calmodulin dislodges alpha-actinin. Either the N- or C-terminal half of calmodulin is sufficient for Ca2+-induced displacement of alpha-actinin. Whereas alpha-actinin directly antagonizes CaMKII binding to NR1 C0, the addition of Ca2+/calmodulin shifts binding of NR1 C0 toward CaMKII by displacing alpha-actinin. Displacement of alpha-actinin results in the simultaneous binding of calmodulin and CaMKII to NR1 C0. Our results reveal an intricate mechanism whereby Ca2+ functions to govern the complex interactions between the two most prevalent signaling molecules in synaptic plasticity, the NMDA receptor and CaMKII.

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