K+-dependent Na+/Ca2+ exchangers (NCKX) catalyze cytosolic Ca2+ extrusion and are particularly important for neuronal Ca2+ signaling. Of the five mammalian isoforms, the detailed functional characteristics have only been reported for NCKX1 and -2. In the current study, the functional characteristics of recombinant NCKX3 and -4 expressed in HEK293 cells were determined and compared with those of NCKX2. Although the apparent affinities of the three isoforms for Ca2+ and Na+ were similar, NCKX3 and -4 displayed ∼40-fold higher affinities for K+ ions than NCKX2. Functional analysis of various NCKX2 mutants revealed that mutation of Thr-551 to Ala, the corresponding residue in NCKX4, resulted in an apparent K+ affinity shift to one similar to that of NCKX4 without a parallel shift in apparent Ca2+ affinity. In the converse situation, when Gln-476 of NCKX4 was converted to Lys, the corresponding residue in NCKX2, both the K+ and Ca2+ affinities were reduced. These results indicate that the apparently low K + affinity of NCKX2 requires a Thr residue at position 551 that may reduce the conformational flexibility and/or K+ liganding strength of side-chain moieties on critical neighboring residues. This interaction appears to be specific to the structural context of the NCKX2 K+ binding pocket, because it was not possible to recreate the K+-specific low affinity phenotype with reciprocal mutations in NCKX4. The results of this study provide important information about the structure and function of NCKX proteins and will be critical to understanding their roles in neuronal Ca2+ signaling.
ASJC Scopus subject areas