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Q Rev Biophys. 2001 Feb;34(1):61-104.

Light at the end of the Ca(2+)-release channel tunnel: structures and mechanisms involved in ion translocation in ryanodine receptor channels.

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Cardiac Medicine, National Heart & Lung Institute, Imperial College of Science, Technology & Medicine, Dovehouse Street, London SW3 6LY, UK.


RyR and InsP3R are Ca(2+)-release channels. When induced to open by the appropriate stimulus, these channels allow Ca2+ to leave intracellular storage organelles at an astonishing rate. Investigations of the ion-handling properties of isolated RyR channels have demonstrated that, at least in comparison to voltage-gated channels of surface membranes, these channels display limited powers of discrimination between physiologically relevant cations and this relative lack of selectivity is likely to contribute to the ability of Ca(2+)-release channels to maintain high rates of cation translocation without compromising function. A range of ion-handling properties in RyR are consistent with the proposal that this channel functions as a single-ion channel and theoretical considerations indicate that the high rates of ion translocation monitored for RyR would require the pore of such a structure to be short and possess a large capture radius. Measurements of the dimensions of regions of RyR involved in ion conduction and discrimination indicate that this is likely to be the case. In each monomer of RyR/InsP3R, residues making up the last two trans-membrane spanning domains and a luminal loop linking these two helices contribute to the formation of the channel pore. The luminal loops of both RyR and InsP3R contain amino acid sequences similar to those known to form the selectivity filter of K+ channels. In addition the luminal loops of both Ca(2+)-release channels contain sequences that are likely to form helices that may be analogous to the pore helix visualised in KcsA. The correlation in structural elements of the luminal loops of RyR/InsP3R and KcsA has prompted us to speculate on the tertiary arrangement for this region of the Ca(2+)-release channels using the established structure of KcsA as a framework.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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