Cardiovascular Research Institute, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94148, USA; Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94158, USA; Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94158, USA; California Institute for Quantitative Biomedical Research, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94158, USA; Kavli Institute for Fundamental Neuroscience, University of California, San Francisco, San Fancisco, CA 94158, USA; Molecular Biophysics and Integrated Bioimaging Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA. Electronic address: [Email]
Store-Operated Calcium Entry (SOCE) plays key roles in cell proliferation, muscle contraction, immune responses, and memory formation. The coordinated interactions of a number of proteins from the plasma and endoplasmic reticulum membranes control SOCE to replenish internal Ca2+ stores and generate intracellular Ca2+ signals. SARAF, an endoplasmic reticulum resident component of the SOCE pathway having no homology to any characterized protein, serves as an important brake on SOCE. Here, we describe the X-ray crystal structure of the SARAF luminal domain, SARAFL. This domain forms a novel 10-stranded β-sandwich fold that includes a set of three conserved disulfide bonds, denoted the "SARAF-fold." The structure reveals a domain-swapped dimer in which the last two β-strands (β9 and β10) are exchanged forming a region denoted the "SARAF luminal switch" that is essential for dimerization. Sequence comparisons reveal that the SARAF-fold is highly conserved in vertebrates and in a variety of pathologic fungi. Förster resonance energy transfer experiments using full-length SARAF validate the formation of the domain-swapped dimer in cells and demonstrate that dimerization is reversible. A designed variant lacking the SARAF luminal switch shows that the domain swapping is essential to function and indicates that the SARAF dimer accelerates SOCE inactivation.