Orai channel C-terminal peptides are key modulators of STIM-Orai coupling and calcium signal generation

James H. Baraniak, Yandong Zhou, Robert M. Nwokonko, Michelle R. Jennette, Sarah A. Kazzaz, Jazmin M. Stenson, Abigale L. Whitsell, Youjun Wang, Mohamed Trebak, Donald L. Gill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Junctional coupling between endoplasmic reticulum (ER) Ca2+-sensor STIM proteins and plasma membrane (PM) Orai channels mediates Ca2+ signals in most cells. We reveal that PM-tethered, fluorescently tagged C-terminal M4x (fourth transmembrane helix contains a cytoplasmic C-terminal extension) peptides from Orai channels undergo a Leu-specific signature of direct interaction with the STIM1 Orai-activating region (SOAR), exactly mimicking STIM1 binding to gate Orai channels. The 20-amino-acid Orai3-M4x peptide associates avidly with STIM1 within ER-PM junctions, functions to competitively block native Ca2+ signals, and mediates a key modification of STIM-Orai coupling induced by 2-aminoethoxydiphenyl borate. By blocking STIM-Orai coupling, the Orai3-M4x peptide reveals the critical role of Orai channels in driving Ca2+ oscillatory signals and transcriptional control through NFAT. The M4x peptides interact independently with SOAR dimers consistent with unimolecular coupling between Orai subunits and STIM1 dimers. We reveal the critical role of M4x helices in defining the coupling interface between STIM and Orai proteins to mediate store-operated Ca2+ signals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number109322
JournalCell Reports
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jun 29 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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