Na+-K+-ATPase from mice lacking the γ subunit exhibits decreased thermal stability. Phospholamban (PLN) and sarcolipin (SLN) are small homologous proteins that regulate sarco(endo)plasmic reticulum Ca2+-ATPases (SERCAs) with properties similar to the γ subunit, through physical interactions with SERCAs. Here, we tested the hypothesis that PLN and SLN may protect against thermal inactivation of SERCAs. HEK-293 cells were co-transfected with different combinations of cDNAs encoding SERCA2a, PLN, a PLN mutant (N34A) that cannot bind to SERCA2a, and SLN. One-half of the cells were heat stressed at 40°C for 1 h (HS), and one-half were maintained at 37°C (CTL) before harvesting the cells and isolating microsomes. Compared with CTL, maximal SERCA activity was reduced by 25–35% following HS in cells that expressed either SERCA2a alone or SERCA2a and mutant PLN (N34A) whereas no change in maximal SERCA2a activity was observed in cells that co-expressed SERCA2a and either PLN or SLN following HS. Increases in SERCA2a carbonyl group content and nitrotyrosine levels that were detected following HS in cells that expressed SERCA2a alone were prevented in cells co-expressing SERCA2a with PLN or SLN, whereas co-expression of SERCA2a with mutant PLN (N34A) only prevented carbonyl group formation. In other experiments using knock-out mice, we found that thermal inactivation of SERCA was increased in cardiac left ventricle samples from Pln-null mice and in diaphragm samples from Sln-null mice, compared with WT littermates. Our results show that both PLN and SLN form a protective interaction with SERCA pumps during HS, preventing nitrosylation and oxidation of SERCA and thus preserving its maximal activity.

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