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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2005 Jun;1047:76-85.

The assembly of calcium release units in cardiac muscle.

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Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA.


Calcium release units (CRUs) are constituted of specialized junctional domains of the sarcoplasmic reticulum (jSR) that bear calcium release channels, also called ryanodine receptors (RyRs). In cardiac muscle, CRUs come in three subtypes that differ in geometry, but have common molecular components. Peripheral couplings are formed by a junction of the jSR with the plasmalemma; dyads occur where the jSR is associated with transverse (T)-tubules; corbular SR is a jSR domain that is located within the cells and bears RyRs but does not associate with either plasmalemma or T-tubules. Using transmission electron microscopy, this study followed the formation of CRUs and their accrual of four components: the L-type channel dihydropyridine receptors (DHPRs) of plasmalemma/T-tubules; the RyRs of jSR; triadin (Tr) and junctin (JnC), two homologous components of the jSR membrane; and calsequestrin (CSQ), the internal calcium binding proteins. During differentiation, peripheral couplings are formed first and the others follow. RyRs and DHPRs are targeted to subdomains of the CRUs that face each other and are acquired in a concerted manner. Overexpressions of either junction (JnC or Tr) and of CSQ, singly or in conjunction, shed light on the specific role of JnC in the structural development, organization, and maintenance of jSR cisternae and on the independent synthetic pathways and targeting of JnC and CSQ. In addition, the structural cues provided by the overexpression models allow us to define sequential steps in the synthetic pathway for JnC and CSQ and their targeting to the CRUs of differentiating myocardium.

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