ALG-2 (a gene product of PDCD6) is a 22-kD protein containing five serially repetitive EF-hand structures and belongs to the penta-EF-hand (PEF) family, including the subunits of typical calpains. ALG-2 is the most conserved protein among the PEF family members and its homologs are widely found in eukaryotes. X-ray crystal structures of various PEF proteins including ALG-2 have common features: presence of eight α-helices and dimer formation via paired EF5s that are positioned in anti-parallel orientation. ALG-2 forms a homodimer and a heterodimer with its closest paralog peflin. Like calmodulin, a well-known four-EF-hand protein, ALG-2 interacts with various proteins in a Ca2+-dependent fashion, but the binding motifs are completely different. With some exceptions, ALG-2-interacting proteins commonly contain Pro-rich regions, and ALG-2 recognizes at least two distinct Pro-containing motifs: PPYP(X)nYP (X, variable; n=4 in ALIX and PLSCR3) and PXPGF (represented by Sec31A). A shorter alternatively spliced isoform, lacking two residues and designated ALG-2ΔGF122, does not bind ALIX but maintains binding capacity to Sec31A. X-ray crystal structural analyses have revealed that binding of calcium ions induces the configuration of the side chain of R125 so that it opens Pocket 1, which accepts PPYP, but Pocket 1 remains closed in the case of ALG-2ΔGF122. ALG-2 dimer has two ligand-binding sites, each in a monomer molecule, and appears to function as a Ca2+-dependent adaptor protein to either stabilize a preformed complex or to bridge two proteins on scaffolds in systems of the endosomal sorting complex required for transport (ESCRT) and ER-to-Golgi transport.
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