The Intracellular Distal Tail of the Na+/H+ Exchanger NHE1 Is Intrinsically Disordered: Implications for NHE1 Trafficking
journal contributionposted on 03.05.2011, 00:00 by Ann-Beth Nørholm, Ruth Hendus-Altenburger, Gabriel Bjerre, Magnus Kjaergaard, Stine F. Pedersen, Birthe B. Kragelund
Intrinsic disorder is important for protein regulation, yet its role in regulation of ion transport proteins is essentially uninvestigated. The ubiquitous plasma membrane carrier protein Na+/H+ Exchanger isoform 1 (NHE1) plays pivotal roles in cellular pH and volume homeostasis, and its dysfunction is implicated in several clinically important diseases. This study shows, for the first time for any carrier protein, that the distal part of the C-terminal intracellular tail (the cdt, residues V686−Q815) from human (h) NHE1 is intrinsically disordered. Further, we experimentally demonstrated the presence of a similar region of intrinsic disorder (ID) in NHE1 from the teleost fish Pleuronectes americanus (paNHE1), and bioinformatic analysis suggested ID to be conserved in the NHE1 family. The sequential variation in structure propensity as determined by NMR, but not the amplitude, was largely conserved between the h- and paNHE1cdt. This suggests that both proteins contain molecular recognition features (MoRFs), i.e., local, transiently formed structures within an ID region. The functional relevance of the most conserved MoRF was investigated by introducing a point mutation that significantly disrupted the putative binding feature. When this mutant NHE1 was expressed in full length NHE1 in AP1 cells, it exhibited impaired trafficking to the plasma membrane. This study demonstrated that the distal regulatory domain of NHE1 is intrinsically disordered yet contains conserved regions of transient structure. We suggest that normal NHE1 function depends on a protein recognition element within the ID region that may be linked to NHE1 trafficking via an acidic ER export motif.