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A Xenopus oocyte beta subunit: evidence for a role in the assembly/expression of voltage-gated calcium channels that is separate from its role as a regulatory subunit.

E Tareilus, M Roux, N Qin, R Olcese, J Zhou, E Stefani, L Birnbaumer

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A., 1997 Mar 4 , 94, 1703-8

Two closely related beta subunit mRNAs (xo28 and xo32) were identified in Xenopus oocytes by molecular cloning. One or both appear to be expressed as active proteins, because: (i) injection of Xenopus beta antisense oligonucleotides, but not of sense or unrelated oligonucleotides, significantly reduced endogenous oocyte voltage-gated Ca2+ channel (VGCC) currents and obliterated VGCC currents that arise after injection of mammalian alpha1 cRNAs (alpha(1C) and alpha(1E)); (ii) coinjection of a Xenopus beta antisense oligonucleotide and excess rat beta cRNA rescued expression of alpha1 Ca2+ channel currents; and (iii) coinjection of mammalian alpha1 cRNA with cRNA encoding either of the two Xenopus beta subunits facilitated both activation and inactivation of Ca2+ channel currents by voltage, as happens with most mammalian beta subunits. The Xenopus beta subunit cDNAs (beta3xo cDNAs) predict proteins of 484 aa that differ in only 22 aa and resemble most closely the sequence of the mammalian type 3 beta subunit. We propose that "alpha1 alone" channels are in fact tightly associated alpha1beta3xo channels, and that effects of exogenous beta subunits are due to formation of higher-order [alpha1beta]beta(n) complexes with an unknown contribution of beta3xo. It is thus possible that functional mammalian VGCCs, rather than having subunit composition alpha1beta, are [alpha1beta]beta(n) complexes that associate with alpha2delta and, as appropriate, other tissue-specific accessory proteins. In support of this hypothesis, we discovered that the last 277-aa of alpha(1E) have a beta subunit binding domain. This beta binding domain is distinct from the previously known interaction domain located between repeats I and II of calcium channel alpha1 subunits.