Background: We examined the role of membrane anchoring of voltage-gated calcium channel α2δ subunits.
Results: We used a truncated α2δ-1 construct (α2δ-1ΔC-term), which still increases CaV2.1/β1b currents, despite being mainly secreted.
Conclusion: The effect of α2δ-1ΔC-term on calcium currents does not involve secretion and subsequent re-binding to the plasma membrane.
Significance: C-terminal membrane anchoring of α2δ is not essential for calcium current enhancement.
The accessory α2δ subunits of voltage-gated calcium channels are membrane-anchored proteins, which are highly glycosylated, possess multiple disulfide bonds, and are post-translationally cleaved into α2 and δ. All α2δ subunits have a C-terminal hydrophobic, potentially trans-membrane domain and were described as type I transmembrane proteins, but we found evidence that they can be glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchored. To probe further the function of membrane anchoring in α2δ subunits, we have now examined the properties of α2δ-1 constructs truncated at their putative glycosylphosphatidylinositol anchor site, located before the C-terminal hydrophobic domain (α2δ-1ΔC-term). We find that the majority of α2δ-1ΔC-term is soluble and secreted into the medium, but unexpectedly, some of the protein remains associated with detergent-resistant membranes, also termed lipid rafts, and is extrinsically bound to the plasma membrane. Furthermore, heterologous co-expression of α2δ-1ΔC-term with CaV2.1/β1b results in a substantial enhancement of the calcium channel currents, albeit less than that produced by wild-type α2δ-1. These results call into question the role of membrane anchoring of α2δ subunits for calcium current enhancement.