Crystal structure of cardiac troponin C regulatory domain in complex with cadmium and deoxycholic acid reveals novel conformation

Alison Yueh Li, Jaeyong Lee, Dominika Borek, Zbyszek Otwinowski, Glen F. Tibbits, Mark Paetzel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The amino-terminal regulatory domain of cardiac troponin C (cNTnC) plays an important role as the calcium sensor for the troponin complex. Calcium binding to cNTnC results in conformational changes that trigger a cascade of events that lead to cardiac muscle contraction. The cardiac N-terminal domain of TnC consists of two EF-hand calcium binding motifs, one of which is dysfunctional in binding calcium. Nevertheless, the defunct EF-hand still maintains a role in cNTnC function. For its structural analysis by X-ray crystallography, human cNTnC with the wild-type primary sequence was crystallized under a novel crystallization condition. The crystal structure was solved by the single-wavelength anomalous dispersion method and refined to 2.2 Å resolution. The structure displays several novel features. Firstly, both EF-hand motifs coordinate cadmium ions derived from the crystallization milieu. Secondly, the ion coordination in the defunct EF-hand motif accompanies unusual changes in the protein conformation. Thirdly, deoxycholic acid, also derived from the crystallization milieu, is bound in the central hydrophobic cavity. This is reminiscent of the interactions observed for cardiac calcium sensitizer drugs that bind to the same core region and maintain the "open" conformational state of calcium-bound cNTnC. The cadmium ion coordination in the defunct EF-hand indicates that this vestigial calcium binding site retains the structural and functional elements that allow it to coordinate a cadmium ion. However, it is a result of, or concomitant with, large and unusual structural changes in cNTnC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)699-711
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Molecular Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 28 2011


  • EF-hand
  • cadmium ion coordination
  • deoxycholic acid
  • radiation damage
  • troponin C

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology
  • Molecular Biology


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