Intrinsically disordered domains have been reported to play important roles in signal transduction networks by introducing cooperativity into protein-protein interactions. Unlike intrinsically disordered domains that become ordered upon binding, the EF-SAM domain in the stromal interaction molecule (STIM) 1 is distinct in that it is ordered in the monomeric state and partially unfolded in its oligomeric state, with the population of the two states depending on the local Ca2 + concentration. The oligomerization of STIM1, which triggers extracellular Ca2 + influx, exhibits cooperativity with respect to the local endoplasmic reticulum Ca 2 + concentration. Although the physiological importance of the oligomerization reaction is well established, the mechanism of the observed cooperativity is not known. Here, we examine the response of the STIM1 EF-SAM domain to changes in Ca2 + concentration using mathematical modeling based on in vitro experiments. We find that the EF-SAM domain partially unfolds and dimerizes cooperatively with respect to Ca2 + concentration, with Hill coefficients and half-maximal activation concentrations very close to the values observed in vivo for STIM1 redistribution and extracellular Ca 2 + influx. Our mathematical model of the dimerization reaction agrees quantitatively with our analytical ultracentrifugation-based measurements and previously published free energies of unfolding. A simple interpretation of these results is that Ca2 + loss effectively acts as a denaturant, enabling cooperative dimerization and robust signal transduction. We present a structural model of the Ca2 +-unbound EF-SAM domain that is consistent with a wide range of evidence, including resistance to proteolytic cleavage of the putative dimerization portion.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Structural Biology
- Molecular Biology