Direct spectroscopic detection of molecular dynamics and interactions of the calcium pump and phospholamban

David D. Thomas, Laxma G. Reddy, Christine B Karim, Ming Li, Razvan Cornea, Joseph M Autry, Larry R. Jones, John Stamm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


In order to test molecular models of cardiac calcium transport regulation, we have used spectroscopy to probe the structures, dynamics, and interactions of the Ca pump (Ca-ATPase) and phospholamban (PLB) in cardiac sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) and in reconstituted membranes. Electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) and phosphorescence of probes bound to the Ca pump show that the activity of the pump is quite sensitive to its oligomeric interactions. In cardiac SR, PLB aggregates and inhibits the pump, and both effects are reversed by PLB phosphorylation. Previous analyses of PLB's oligomeric state were only in detergent solutions, so we used EPR and fluorescence to determine the oligomeric structure of PLB in its native state in lipid bilayers. Wild-type PLB is primarily oligomeric in the membrane, while the mutant L37A-PLB is monomeric. For both proteins, phosphorylation shifts the dynamic monomer-oligomer equilibrium toward oligomers, and induces a similar structural change, as indicated by tyrosine fluorescence; yet L37A-PLB is more effective than wild-type PLB in inhibiting and aggregating the pump. Fluorescence energy transfer shows that the Ca pump increases the fraction of monomeric PLB, indicating that the pump preferentially binds monomeric PLB. These results support a reciprocal aggregation model for Ca pump regulation, in which the Ca pump is aggregated and inhibited by association with PLB monomers, and phosphorylation of PLB reverses these effects while decreasing the concentration of PLB monomers. To investigate the structure of the PLB pentamer in more detail, we measured the reactivities of cysteine residues in the transmembrane domain of PLB, and recorded EPR spectra of spin labels attached to these sites. These results support an atomic structural model, based on molecular dynamics simulations and mutagenesis studies, in which the PLB pentamer is stabilized by a leucine-isoleucine zipper within the transmembrane domain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)186-194
Number of pages9
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
StatePublished - 1998


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