Neuronal and astrocyte NCX isoform/splice variants: How do they participate in Na+ and Ca2+ signalling?

Daniel Khananshvili*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


NCX1, NCX2, and NCX3 gene isoforms and their splice variants are characteristically expressed in different regions of the brain. The tissue-specific splice variants of NCX1–3 isoforms show specific expression profiles in neurons and astrocytes, whereas the relevant NCX isoform/splice variants exhibit diverse allosteric modes of Na+- and Ca2+-dependent regulation. In general, overexpression of NCX1–3 genes leads to neuroprotective effects, whereas their ablation gains the opposite results. At this end, the partial contributions of NCX isoform/splice variants to neuroprotective effects remain unresolved. The glutamate-dependent Na+ entry generates Na+ transients (in response to neuronal cell activities), whereas the Na+-driven Ca2+ entry (through the reverse NCX mode) raises Ca2+ transients. This special mode of signal coupling translates Na+ transients into the Ca2+ signals while being a part of synaptic neurotransmission. This mechanism is of general interest since disease-related conditions (ischemia, metabolic stress, and stroke among many others) trigger Na+ and Ca2+ overload with deadly outcomes of downstream apoptosis and excitotoxicity. The recently discovered mechanisms of NCX allosteric regulation indicate that some NCX variants might play a critical role in the dynamic coupling of Na+-driven Ca2+ entry. In contrast, the others are less important or even could be dangerous under altered conditions (e.g., metabolic stress). This working hypothesis can be tested by applying advanced experimental approaches and highly focused computational simulations. This may allow the development of structure-based blockers/activators that can selectively modulate predefined NCX variants to lessen the life-threatening outcomes of excitotoxicity, ischemia, apoptosis, metabolic deprivation, brain injury, and stroke.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102818
JournalCell Calcium
StatePublished - Dec 2023


FundersFunder number
Heinrich Heine University
Israel Science Foundation1351/18, 1340/23


    • Allosteric regulation
    • Astrocyte
    • Isoforms
    • NCX
    • Neurodegenerative diseases
    • Neurological disorders
    • Neuron
    • Splice variants
    • reverse NCX mode


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