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Biophys J. 1999 Sep;77(3):1394-403.

Contribution of ryanodine receptor type 3 to Ca(2+) sparks in embryonic mouse skeletal muscle.

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  • 1Department of Physiology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706, USA.


The kinetic behavior of Ca(2+) sparks in knockout mice lacking a specific ryanodine receptor (RyR) isoform should provide molecular information on function and assembly of clusters of RyRs. We examined resting Ca(2+) sparks in RyR type 3-null intercostal myotubes from embryonic day 18 (E18) mice and compared them to Ca(2+) sparks in wild-type (wt) mice of the same age and to Ca(2+) sparks in fast-twitch muscle cells from the foot of wt adult mice. Sparks from RyR type 3-null embryonic cells (368 events) were significantly smaller, briefer, and had a faster time to peak than sparks from wt cells (280 events) of the same age. Sparks in adult cells (220 events) were infrequent, yet they were highly reproducible with population means smaller than those in embryonic RyR type 3-null cells but similar to those reported in adult amphibian skeletal muscle fibers. Three-dimensional representations of the spark peak intensity (DeltaF/Fo) vs. full width at half-maximal intensity (FWHM) vs. full duration at half-maximal intensity (FTHM) showed that wt embryonic sparks were considerably more variable in size and kinetics than sparks in adult muscle. In all cases, tetracaine (0.2 mM) abolished Ca(2+) spark activity, whereas caffeine (0.1 mM) lengthened the spark duration in wt embryonic and adult cells but not in RyR type 3-null cells. These results confirmed that sparks arose from RyRs. The low caffeine sensitivity of RyR type 3-null cells is entirely consistent with observations by other investigators. There are three conclusions from this study: i) RyR type-1 engages in Ca(2+) spark activity in the absence of other RyR isoforms in RyR type 3-null myotubes; ii) Ca(2+) sparks with parameters similar to those reported in adult amphibian skeletal muscle can be detected, albeit at a low frequency, in adult mammalian skeletal muscle cells; and iii) a major contributor to the unusually large Ca(2+) sparks observed in normal (wt) embryonic muscle is RyR type 3. To explain the reduction in the size of sparks in adult compared to embryonic skeletal muscle, we suggest that in embryonic muscle, RyR type 1 and RyR type 3 channels co-contribute to Ca(2+) release during the same spark and that Ca(2+) sparks undergo a maturation process which involves a decrease in RyR type 3.

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