Proton-modulated interactions of ions with transport sites of prokaryotic and eukaryotic NCX prototypes

Bosmat Refaeli, Stephanie Liu, Reuben Hiller, Moshe Giladi, Carlos R. Baiz, Daniel Khananshvili*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The cytosolic pH decline from 7.2 to 6.9 results in 90% inactivation of mammalian Na+/Ca2+ exchangers (NCXs) due to protons interactions with regulatory and transport domains (“proton block”). Remarkably, the pH titration curves of mammalian and prokaryotic NCXs significantly differ, even after excluding the allosteric effects through regulatory domains. This is fascinating since “only” three (out of twelve) ion-coordinating residues (T50S, E213D, and D240N) differ between the archaeal NCX_Mj and mammalian NCXs although they contain either three or two carboxylates, respectively. To resolve the underlying mechanisms of pH-dependent regulation, the ion-coordinating residues of NCX_Mj were mutated to imitate the ion ligation arrays of mammalian NCXs; the mutational effects were tested on the ion binding/transport by using ion-flux assays and two-dimensional infrared (2D IR) spectroscopy. Our analyses revealed that two deprotonated carboxylates ligate 3Na+ or 1Ca2+ in NCX prototypes with three or two carboxylates. The Na+/Ca2+ exchange rates of NCX_Mj reach saturation at pH 5.0, whereas the Na+/Ca2+ exchange rates of the cardiac NCX1.1 gradually increase even at alkaline pHs. The T50S replacement in NCX_Mj "recapitulates" the pH titration curves of mammalian NCX by instigating an alkaline shift. Proteolytic shaving of regulatory CBD domains activates NCX1.1, although the normalized pH-titration curves are comparable in trypsin treated and untreated NCX1.1. Thus, the T50S-dependent alkaline shift sets a dynamic range for "proton block" function at physiological pH, whereas the CBDs (and other regulatory modes) modulate incremental changes in the transport rates rather than affect the shape of pH dependent curves.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102476
JournalCell Calcium
StatePublished - Nov 2021


  • Ion ligation
  • NCX, ion-coordinating residues
  • Proton block
  • Transport rates
  • pH dependence


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