Secretagogin is a hexa EF-hand protein, which has been identified as a novel potential tumour marker. In the present study, we show that secretagogin binds four Ca2+ ions (log K1=7.1±0.4, log K2=4.7±0.6, log K3=3.6±0.7 and log K4=4.6±0.6 in physiological salt buffers) with a [Ca2+]0.5 of approx. 25 μM. The tertiary structure of secretagogin changes significantly upon Ca2+ binding, but not upon Mg2+ binding, and the amount of exposed hydrophobic surface in secretagogin increases upon Ca2+ binding, but not upon Mg2+ binding. These properties suggest that secretagogin belongs to the ‘sensor’ family of Ca2+-binding proteins. However, in contrast with the prototypical Ca2+ sensor calmodulin, which interacts with a very large number of proteins, secretagogin is significantly less promiscuous. Only one secretagogin-interacting protein was reproducibly identified from insulinoma cell lysates and from bovine and mouse brain homogenates. This protein was identified as SNAP-25 (25 kDa synaptosome-associated protein), a protein involved in Ca2+-induced exocytosis in neurons and in neuroendocrine cells. Kd was determined to be 1.2×10−7 M in the presence of Ca2+ and 1.5×10−6 M in the absence of Ca2+. The comparatively low Ca2+ affinity for secretagogin and the fact that it undergoes Ca2+-induced conformational changes and interacts with SNAP-25 raise the possibility that secretagogin may link Ca2+ signalling to exocytotic processes.

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