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PLoS Genet. 2010 Aug 26;6(8). pii: e1001077. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1001077.

An alpha-catulin homologue controls neuromuscular function through localization of the dystrophin complex and BK channels in Caenorhabditis elegans.

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  • 1Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy, The Chicago Medical School, Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, North Chicago, Illinois, United States of America.


The large conductance, voltage- and calcium-dependent potassium (BK) channel serves as a major negative feedback regulator of calcium-mediated physiological processes and has been implicated in muscle dysfunction and neurological disorders. In addition to membrane depolarization, activation of the BK channel requires a rise in cytosolic calcium. Localization of the BK channel near calcium channels is therefore critical for its function. In a genetic screen designed to isolate novel regulators of the Caenorhabditis elegans BK channel, SLO-1, we identified ctn-1, which encodes an α-catulin homologue with homology to the cytoskeletal proteins α-catenin and vinculin. ctn-1 Mutants resemble slo-1 loss-of-function mutants, as well as mutants with a compromised dystrophin complex. We determined that CTN-1 uses two distinct mechanisms to localize SLO-1 in muscles and neurons. In muscles, CTN-1 utilizes the dystrophin complex to localize SLO-1 channels near L-type calcium channels. In neurons, CTN-1 is involved in localizing SLO-1 to a specific domain independent of the dystrophin complex. Our results demonstrate that CTN-1 ensures the localization of SLO-1 within calcium nanodomains, thereby playing a crucial role in muscles and neurons.

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