Biochemical Society Transactions vol:39 issue:3 pages:781-787
As a major Ca2+ pump in the sarcoplasmic reticulum of the cardiomyocyte, SERCA2a (sarcoplasmic/endoplasmic reticulum Ca2+-ATPase 2a) controls the relaxation and contraction of the cardiomyocyte. It is meticulously regulated by adapting its expression levels and affinity for Ca2+ ions to the physiological demand of the heart. Dysregulation of the SERCA2a activity entails poor cardiomyocyte contractility, resulting in heart failure. Conversely, improving cardiac SERCA2a activity, e.g. by boosting its expression level or by increasing its affinity for Ca2+, is a promising strategy to rescue contractile dysfunction of the failing heart. The structures of the related SERCA1a Ca2+ pump and the Na+/K+-ATPase of the plasma membrane exposed the pumping mechanism and conserved domain architecture of these ion pumps. However, how the Ca2+ affinity of SERCA2a is regulated at the molecular level remained unclear. A structural and functional analysis of the closely related SERCA2b Ca2+ pump, i.e. the housekeeping Ca2+ pump found in the endoplasmic reticulum and the only SERCA isoform characterized by a high Ca2+ affinity, aimed to fill this gap. We demonstrated the existence of a novel and highly conserved site on the SERCA2 pump mediating Ca2+ affinity regulation by the unique C-terminus of SERCA2b (2b-tail). It differs from the earlier-described target site of the affinity regulator phospholamban. Targeting this novel site may provide a new approach to improve SERCA2a function in the failing heart. Strikingly, the intramembrane interaction site of the 2b-tail in SERCA2b shares sequence and structural homology with the binding site of the β-subunit on the α Na+/K+-ATPase. Thus P-type ATPases seem to have developed related mechanisms of regulation, and it is a future challenge for us to discover these general principles of P-type regulation.