Inositol 1,4,5-tris-phosphate activation of inositol tris-phosphate receptor Ca2+ channel by ligand tuning of Ca2+ inhibition
Inositol 1,4,5-tris-phosphate (IP3) binding to its receptors (IP3R) in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) activates Ca2+ release from the ER lumen to the cytoplasm, generating complex cytoplasmic Ca2+ concentration signals including temporal oscillations and propagating waves. IP3-mediated Ca2+ release is also controlled by cytoplasmic Ca2+ concentration with both positive and negative feedback. Single-channel properties of the IP3R in its native ER membrane were investigated by patch clamp electrophysiology of isolated Xenopus oocyte nuclei to determine the dependencies of IP3R on cytoplasmic Ca2+ and IP3 concentrations under rigorously defined conditions. Instead of the expected narrow bell-shaped cytoplasmic free Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]i) response centered at ≈300 nM–1 μM, the open probability remained elevated (≈0.8) in the presence of saturating levels (10 μM) of IP3, even as [Ca2+]i was raised to high concentrations, displaying two distinct types of functional Ca2+ binding sites: activating sites with half-maximal activating [Ca2+]i (Kact) of 210 nM and Hill coefficient (Hact) ≈2; and inhibitory sites with half-maximal inhibitory [Ca2+]i (Kinh) of 54 μM and Hill coefficient (Hinh) ≈4. Lowering IP3 concentration was without effect on Ca2+ activation parameters or Hinh, but decreased Kinh with a functional half-maximal activating IP3 concentration (KIP3) of 50 nM and Hill coefficient (HIP3) of 4 for IP3. These results demonstrate that Ca2+ is a true receptor agonist, whereas the sole function of IP3 is to relieve Ca2+ inhibition of IP3R. Allosteric tuning of Ca2+ inhibition by IP3 enables the individual IP3R Ca2+ channel to respond in a graded fashion, which has implications for localized and global cytoplasmic Ca2+ concentration signaling and quantal Ca2+ release.