Structure-Based Function and Regulation of NCX Variants: Updates and Challenges

Daniel Khananshvili*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The plasma-membrane homeostasis Na+/Ca2+ exchangers (NCXs) mediate Ca2+ extrusion/entry to dynamically shape Ca2+ signaling/in biological systems ranging from bacteria to humans. The NCX gene orthologs, isoforms, and their splice variants are expressed in a tissue-specific manner and exhibit nearly 104-fold differences in the transport rates and regulatory specificities to match the cell-specific requirements. Selective pharmacological targeting of NCX variants could benefit many clinical applications, although this intervention remains challenging, mainly because a full-size structure of eukaryotic NCX is unavailable. The crystal structure of the archaeal NCX_Mj, in conjunction with biophysical, computational, and functional analyses, provided a breakthrough in resolving the ion transport mechanisms. However, NCX_Mj (whose size is nearly three times smaller than that of mammalian NCXs) cannot serve as a structure-dynamic model for imitating high transport rates and regulatory modules possessed by eukaryotic NCXs. The crystal structures of isolated regulatory domains (obtained from eukaryotic NCXs) and their biophysical analyses by SAXS, NMR, FRET, and HDX-MS approaches revealed structure-based variances of regulatory modules. Despite these achievements, it remains unclear how multi-domain interactions can decode and integrate diverse allosteric signals, thereby yielding distinct regulatory outcomes in a given ortholog/isoform/splice variant. This article summarizes the relevant issues from the perspective of future developments.

Original languageEnglish
Article number61
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2023


  • CAX
  • Ca/CA
  • NCKX
  • NCLX
  • NCX
  • allosteric regulation
  • antiporter
  • ion binding sites
  • ion selectivity
  • ion transport mechanisms
  • post-translational modification
  • regulatory domains
  • sodium-calcium exchange
  • transport rates


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