Conserved and divergent features of neuronal CaMKII holoenzyme structure, function, and high-order assembly
Neuronal CaMKII holoenzymes (α- and β-isoforms) enable molecular signal computation underlying learning and memory, but also mediate excitotoxic neuronal death. Here, we provide a comparative analysis of these signaling devices, using single particle EM in combination with biochemical and live-cell imaging studies. In the basal state, both isoforms assembled mainly as 12-mers (but also 14-mers, and even 16-mers for the β-isoform). CaMKIIα and β-isoforms adopted an ensemble of extended activatable states (with average radius of 12.6 versus 16.8 nm, respectively), characterized by multiple transient intra- and inter-holoenzyme interactions associated with distinct functional properties. The extended state of CaMKIIβ allowed EM analysis to directly resolve intra-holoenzyme kinase-domain dimers that could enable the cooperative activation mechanism by calmodulin, which was found for both isoforms. Surprisingly, high-order CaMKII clustering mediated by inter-holoenzyme kinase-domain dimerization was reduced for the β isoform for both basal and excitotoxicity-induced clusters, both in vitro and in neurons.