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Biophys J. 2004 Aug;87(2):929-42.

Involvement of a heptad repeat in the carboxyl terminus of the dihydropyridine receptor beta1a subunit in the mechanism of excitation-contraction coupling in skeletal muscle.

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Department of Physiology, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine, Madison, Wisconsin 53706, USA.


Chimeras consisting of the homologous skeletal dihydropyridine receptor (DHPR) beta1a subunit and the heterologous cardiac/brain beta2a subunit were used to determine which regions of beta1a were responsible for the skeletal-type excitation-contraction (EC) coupling phenotype. Chimeras were transiently transfected in beta1 knockout myotubes and then voltage-clamped with simultaneous measurement of confocal fluo-4 fluorescence. All chimeras expressed a similar density of DHPR charge movements, indicating that the membrane density of DHPR voltage sensors was not a confounding factor in these studies. The data indicates that a beta1a-specific domain present in the carboxyl terminus, namely the D5 region comprising the last 47 residues (beta1a 478-524), is essential for expression of skeletal-type EC coupling. Furthermore, the location of beta1aD5 immediately downstream from conserved domain D4 is also critical. In contrast, chimeras in which beta1aD5 was swapped by the D5 region of beta2a expressed Ca(2+) transients triggered by the Ca(2+) current, or none at all. A hydrophobic heptad repeat is present in domain D5 of beta1a (L478, V485, V492). To determine the role of this motif, residues in the heptad repeat were mutated to alanines. The triple mutant beta1a(L478A/V485A/V492A) recovered weak skeletal-type EC coupling (DeltaF/F(max) = 0.4 +/- 0.1 vs. 2.7 +/- 0.5 for wild-type beta1a). However, a triple mutant with alanine substitutions at positions out of phase with the heptad repeat, beta1a(S481A/L488A/S495A), was normal (DeltaF/F(max) = 2.1 +/- 0.4). In summary, the presence of the beta1a-specific D5 domain, in its correct position after conserved domain D4, is essential for skeletal-type EC coupling. Furthermore, a heptad repeat in beta1aD5 controls the EC coupling activity. The carboxyl terminal heptad repeat of beta1a might be involved in protein-protein interactions with ryanodine receptor type 1 required for DHPR to ryanodine receptor type 1 signal transmission.

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