Physiological Reviews

Sodium/Calcium Exchanger: Influence of Metabolic Regulation on Ion Carrier Interactions

Reinaldo Dipolo, Luis Beaugé


The Na+/Ca2+ exchanger's family of membrane transporters is widely distributed in cells and tissues of the animal kingdom and constitutes one of the most important mechanisms for extruding Ca2+ from the cell. Two basic properties characterize them. 1) Their activity is not predicted by thermodynamic parameters of classical electrogenic countertransporters (dependence on ionic gradients and membrane potential), but is markedly regulated by transported (Na+ and Ca2+) and nontransported ionic species (protons and other monovalent cations). These modulations take place at specific sites in the exchanger protein located at extra-, intra-, and transmembrane protein domains. 2) Exchange activity is also regulated by the metabolic state of the cell. The mammalian and invertebrate preparations share MgATP in that role; the squid has an additional compound, phosphoarginine. This review emphasizes the interrelationships between ionic and metabolic modulations of Na+/Ca2+ exchange, focusing mainly in two preparations where most of the studies have been carried out: the mammalian heart and the squid giant axon. A surprising fact that emerges when comparing the MgATP-related pathways in these two systems is that although they are different (phosphatidylinositol bisphosphate in the cardiac and a soluble cytosolic regulatory protein in the squid), their final target effects are essentially similar: Na+-Ca2+-H+ interactions with the exchanger. A model integrating both ionic and metabolic interactions in the regulation of the exchanger is discussed in detail as well as its relevance in cellular Cai2+ homeostasis.

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