Journal of Biological Chemistry vol:276 issue:47 pages:43557-63
The sarco-endoplasmic reticulum Ca(2+)-transport ATPase (SERCA) loads intracellular releasable Ca(2+) stores by transporting cytosolic Ca(2+) into the endoplasmic (ER) or sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR). We characterized the only SERCA homologue of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, which is encoded by the sca-1 gene. The sca-1 transcript is alternatively spliced in a similar mode as the vertebrate SERCA2 transcript, giving rise to two protein variants: CeSERCAa and CeSERCAb. These proteins showed structural and functional conservation to the vertebrate SERCA2a/b proteins. The CeSERCAs were primarily expressed in contractile tissues. Loss of CeSERCA through gene ablation or RNA interference resulted in contractile dysfunctioning and in early larval or embryonic lethality, respectively. Similar defects could be induced pharmacologically using the SERCA-specific inhibitor thapsigargin, which bound CeSERCA at a conserved site. The conservation of SERCA2 homologues in C. elegans will allow genetic and chemical suppressor analyses to identify promising drug targets and lead molecules for treatment of SERCA-related diseases such as heart disease.