Biophysical journal

Mechanism for calcium ion sensing by the C2A domain of synaptotagmin I.

PMID 22853901


The C2A domain is one of two calcium ion (Ca(2+))- and membrane-binding domains within synaptotagmin I (Syt I), the identified Ca(2+) sensor for regulated exocytosis of neurotransmitter. We propose that the mechanistic basis for C2A's response to Ca(2+) and cellular function stems from marginal stability and ligand-induced redistributions of protein conformers. To test this hypothesis, we used a combination of calorimetric and fluorescence techniques. We measured free energies of stability by globally fitting differential scanning calorimetry and fluorescence lifetime spectroscopy denaturation data, and found that C2A is weakly stable. Additionally, using partition functions in a fluorescence resonance energy transfer approach, we found that the Ca(2+)- and membrane-binding sites of C2A exhibit weak cooperative linkage. Lastly, a dye-release assay revealed that the Ca(2+)- and membrane-bound conformer subset of C2A promote membrane disruption. We discuss how these phenomena may lead to both cooperative and functional responses of Syt I.