Rat intestinal Golgi-enriched membrane fractions take up Ca2+ by a vitamin D-dependent process that has been shown to recover within 15 min of repletion of vitamin D-deficient animals with intravenous 1,25-dihydroxycholecalciferol. The present paper reports studies characterizing the Ca2+-binding sites of these membrane fractions. Equilibrium binding of Ca2+ at concentrations between 5 and 400 microM showed significant decreases at all concentrations in membranes derived from vitamin D-deficient animals when compared with normal control-diet-fed animals. The predominant class of binding sites had a relatively high affinity for Ca2+ (KD approx. 3 microM). Vitamin D-deficiency did not change the affinity of this class of site, but decreased the number from 347 +/- 26 to 168 +/- 50 nmol of Ca2+ bound/mg of protein (means +/- S.D.). Mg2+ inhibited binding only at low Ca2+ concentrations, and the characteristics of this binding suggested positive co-operativity between two binding sites. Equimolar concentrations of Zn2+, La3+, Pb2+ and Mn2+ inhibited Ca2+ binding by over 50%. Increased ionic strength decreased Ca2+ binding by no more than half. Binding was maximal at pH 7.5 and half-maximal at pH 6.3. The large number of binding sites with relatively high affinity for Ca2+ suggests that it is unlikely that this binding is to any specific protein or to non-specific sites present on many proteins, and that the most likely sites are lipid molecules.

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