Voltage-gated calcium channels of the heart and of skeletal muscle are highly regulated to tune the function of each type of muscle. An integral part of the regulation is feedback inhibition and feedback activation of these channels by calcium entry through the channel itself. These feedback mechanisms, calcium-dependent inactivation (CDI) and calcium-dependent facilitation (CDF), both depend on calcium binding to calmodulin and a change in conformation leading to a shift in the calmodulin binding site within the channel. It is still unknown how these two mechanisms can be regulated through the same protein at a complex binding site of the C-terminal tail of the channel. The hypothesis of this proposal is that feedback regulation occurs by shifting the conformation and binding of calmodulin within the C-terminal domain of the Ca2+-channel alpha-subunit. We will test this hypothesis through three specific aims:
Aim 1 will examine the conformation of calmodulin in its apo-form, with no calcium occupancy, using high-precision, lanthanide-based energy transfer distance measurements between the lobes of calmodulin. The lobes will be localized by distance measurements to specific recognition sequences on the channel. In addition, X-ray crystallographic studies will determine the atomic-resolution structure of apo-calmodulin complexed with the recognition sequences.
Aim 2 will utilize similar approaches to determine the binding sites for each calmodulin lobe and its conformation during partial and complete Ca2+ occupancy that occur during CDI.
Aim 3 will determine conformation and sites of calmodulin binding in the presence of mutations known to affect CDI and CDF, using similar approaches. The results of these experiments will reveal the exact changes in conformation and location of calmodulin that occur during CDI and CDF and to provide a critical understanding of how these regulatory functions are initiated. The proteins under study in this proposal regulate the heart beat and skeletal muscle contraction. These channels are critically important in human disease;in the heart they are the targets of calcium blockers, which are routinely used to prevent heart attack. The proposed research provides information on how this channel is regulated, and, therefore, an opportunity to provide better therapeutics for diseases such as long QT syndrome, hyperkalemic periodic paralysis, malignant hyperthermia, and Timothy's syndrome.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
Research Project (R01)
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Biophysics of Neural Systems Study Section (BPNS)
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Przywara, Dennis
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Baylor College of Medicine
Schools of Medicine
United States
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Fallon, Jennifer L; Baker, Mariah R; Xiong, Liangwen et al. (2009) Crystal structure of dimeric cardiac L-type calcium channel regulatory domains bridged by Ca2+* calmodulins. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 106:5135-40
Halling, D Brent; Georgiou, Dimitra K; Black, D J et al. (2009) Determinants in CaV1 channels that regulate the Ca2+ sensitivity of bound calmodulin. J Biol Chem 284:20041-51