Phospholamban (PLB) is a major target of β-adrenergic signaling, whose phosphorylation results in enhanced rates of relaxation in the heart. Prior to phosphorylation, PLB functions to reduce the calcium sensitivity of the Ca-ATPase, resulting in slower rates of calcium resequestration into the sarcoplasmic reticulum after each contractile event. Recent structures indicate that the inhibitory interaction between PLB and the Ca-ATPase requires PLB to assume an extended structure, where the transmembrane and cytosolic portions of PLB undergo specific binding interactions with distant sites on the Ca-ATPase. In the extended conformation, PLB binding to the Ca-ATPase functions to inhibit the Ca-ATPase through a reduction in the rates of catalytically important motions involving the nucleotide binding domain. Phosphorylation of PLB at either Ser16 or Thr17 releases the inhibitory interaction between PLB and the Ca-ATPase. These sites of phosphorylation are within a hinge region in PLB that separates the highly structured transmembrane and cytosolic portions that associate with the Ca-ATPase. The helical content of the hinge region increases following the phosphorylation of PLB, which induces a shortening of the maximal dimensions of PLB and a release of the inhibitory interaction with the Ca-ATPase. Following phosphorylation, PLB remains associated with the Ca-ATPase in a more compact form that has no inhibitory capability. Thus, the conformational switch involving PLB regulation of the Ca-ATPase relies upon a physical mechanism, whereby the phosphorylationdependent stabilization of the structure of PLB functions to destabilize the inhibitory interaction between PLB and the Ca-ATPase. Upon hydrolysis of the phosphoester linkages by endogenous phosphatases, PLB is poised to reassume the inhibited state through re-association with inhibitory sites on the nucleotide binding domain of the Ca-ATPase.
Keywords: cytosolic calcium, ATPase protein, fast-twitch muscle, disulfide crosslinking, phosphorylation, mutational analysis