EF-hand, calcium binding motif, found in alpha-parvalbumin
Alpha-parvalbumin is cytosolic Ca2+/Mg2+-binding protein expressed mainly in fast-twitch skeletal myofibrils, where it may act as a soluble relaxing factor facilitating the Ca2+-mediated relaxation phase. It is also expressed in rapidly firing neurons, particularly GABA-ergic neurons, and thus may confer protection against Ca2+ toxicity. The major role of alpha-parvalbumin is metal buffering and transport of Ca2+. It binds different metal cations, and exhibits very high affinity for Ca2+ and physiologically significant affinity for Mg2+. Alpha-parvalbumin is characterized by the presence of three consecutive EF-hand motifs (helix-loop-helix) called AB, CD, and EF, but only CD and EF can chelate metal ions, such as Ca2+ and Mg2+. Both metal ion-binding sites in alpha-parvalbumin are high-affinity sites. Additionally, in contrast to beta-parvalbumin, alpha-parvalbumin is less acidic and has an additional residue in the C-terminal helix.