Science (New York, N.Y.)

Structural basis for a pH-sensitive calcium leak across membranes.

PMID 24904158


Calcium homeostasis balances passive calcium leak and active calcium uptake. Human Bax inhibitor-1 (hBI-1) is an antiapoptotic protein that mediates a calcium leak and is representative of a highly conserved and widely distributed family, the transmembrane Bax inhibitor motif (TMBIM) proteins. Here, we present crystal structures of a bacterial homolog and characterize its calcium leak activity. The structure has a seven-transmembrane-helix fold that features two triple-helix sandwiches wrapped around a central C-terminal helix. Structures obtained in closed and open conformations are reversibly interconvertible by change of pH. A hydrogen-bonded, pKa (where Ka is the acid dissociation constant)-perturbed pair of conserved aspartate residues explains the pH dependence of this transition, and biochemical studies show that pH regulates calcium influx in proteoliposomes. Homology models for hBI-1 provide insights into TMBIM-mediated calcium leak and cytoprotective activity.