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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2004 May;1015:1-15.

Learning about cardiac calcium signaling from genetic engineering.

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Pharmacology and Medicine, Georgetown University, 4000 Reservoir Rd., Washington, DC 20057, USA.


Genetic engineering has already provided critical data on the Ca-induced Ca(2+) release (CICR) hypothesis issues and promises even greater future insights. The two approaches employed thus far are (1) the construction of transgenic animal models with deletion or overexpression of Ca(2+) signaling proteins, and (2) direct structure-function studies of these proteins in artificial systems. In our laboratory both approaches have provided some insight into molecular modulation of CICR and the pathophysiology arising from the deletion or overactivity of these proteins. Probing the cytoplasmic segments of the carboxyl c-terminal tail of Ca(2+) channel, we identified two calcium sensing and calmodulin binding domains (LA and K) that have been implicated in Ca(2+)-induced inactivation of Ca(2+) channels. Introducing these peptides into atrial myocytes, where a large fraction of Ca(2+) release sites are unassociated with the dihydropyridine receptors (DHPRs) (no t-tubules), suggests that LA, but not K motif, increases the sensitivity of RyRs to Ca(2+), is responsible for the higher frequency of Ca(2+) sparks in the peripheral sites, and provides for the voltage dependence of CICR. Genetic overexpression or deletion of the primary proteins of the Ca(2+) signaling cascade also provides supportive evidence for the Ca(2+) current (I(Ca))-gated CICR mechanism, generates some novel and unexpected cardiac phenotypes in transgenic mice, and suggests that Ca(2+) signaling defects can trigger compensatory molecular mechanisms that underlie the observed cardiac phenotype and pathophysiology.

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