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J Biol Chem. 2009 Aug 7;284(32):21696-706. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M109.018408. Epub 2009 Jun 8.

Molecular determinants of the coupling between STIM1 and Orai channels: differential activation of Orai1-3 channels by a STIM1 coiled-coil mutant.

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Institute of Biophysics, University of Linz, A-4040 Linz, Austria.


STIM1 and Orai1 have been reported to interact upon store depletion culminating in Ca(2+) release-activated Ca(2+) current activation. Recently, the essential region has been identified within the STIM1 C terminus that includes the second coiled-coil domain C-terminally extended by approximately 50 amino acids and exhibits a strong binding to the Orai1 C terminus. Based on the homology within the Orai family, an analogous scenario might be assumed for Orai2 as well as Orai3 channels as both are activated in a similar STIM1-dependent manner. A combined approach of electrophysiology and Foerster resonance energy transfer microscopy uncovered a general mechanism in the communication of STIM1 with Orai proteins that involved the conserved putative coiled-coil domains in the respective Orai C terminus and the second coiled-coil motif in the STIM1 C terminus. A coiled-coil single mutation in the Orai1 C terminus abrogated communication with the STIM1 C terminus, whereas an analogous mutation in Orai2 and Orai3 still allowed for their moderate activation. However, increasing coiled-coil probability by a gain of function deletion in Orai1 or by generating an Orai1-Orai3 chimera containing the Orai3 C terminus recovered stimulation to a similar extent as with Orai2/3. At the level of STIM1, decreasing probability of the second coiled-coil domain by a single mutation within the STIM1 C terminus abolished activation of Orai1 but still enabled partial stimulation of Orai2/3 channels. A double mutation within the second coiled-coil motif of the STIM1 C terminus fully disrupted communication with all three Orai channels. In aggregate, the impairment in the overall communication between STIM1 and Orai channels upon decreasing probabilities of either one of the putative coiled-coil domains in the C termini might be compatible with the concept of their functional, heteromeric interaction.

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