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Gen Physiol Biophys. 2005 Jun;24 Suppl 1:1-78.

Voltage-dependent calcium channels.

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Institute of Molecular Physiology and Genetics, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Vlárska 5, 833 34 Bratislava 37, Slovakia.


Voltage-activated calcium channels can be divided into two subgroups based on their activation threshold, low-voltage-activated (LVA) and high-voltage-activated (HVA). Auxiliary subunits of the HVA calcium channels contribute significantly to biophysical properties of the channels. We have cloned and characterized members of two families of auxiliary subunits: alpha2delta and gamma. Two new alpha2delta subunits, alpha2delta-2 and alpha2delta-3, regulate all classes of HVA calcium channels. While the ubiquitous alpha2delta-2 modulates both neuronal and non-neuronal channels with similar efficiency, the alpha2delta-3 subunit regulates Ca(v)2.3 channels more effectively. Furthermore, alpha2delta-2 may modulate the LVA Ca(v)3.1 channel. Four new gamma subunits, gamma-2, gamma-3, gamma-4 and gamma-5, were characterized. The gamma-2 subunit modulated both the non-neuronal Ca(v)1.2 channel and the neuronal Ca(v)2.1 channel. The gamma-4 subunit affected only the Ca(v)2.1 channel. The gamma-5 subunit may be a regulatory subunit of the LVA Ca(v)3.1 channel. The Ca(v)1.2 channel is a major target for treatment of cardiovascular diseases. We have mapped the interaction site for clinically important channel blockers - dihydropyridines (DHPs) - and analysed the underlying inhibition mechanism. High-affinity inhibition is characterized by interaction with inactivated state of the channel. Its structural determinants are amino acids of the IVS6 segment, with smaller contribution of the IS6 segment, which contributes to voltage-dependence of DHP inhibition. Removal of amino acids responsible for the high-affinity inhibition revealed a low-affinity open channel block, in which amino acids of the IIIS5 and IIIS6 segments take part. Experiments with a permanently charged DHP suggested that there is another low-affinity interaction site on the alpha(1) subunit. We have cloned and characterized murine neuronal LVA Ca(v)3.1 channel. The channel has high sensitivity to the organic blocker mibefradil, moderate sensitivity to phenytoin, and low sensitivity to ethosuximide, amiloride and valproat. The channel is insensitive to tetrodotoxin and DHPs. The inorganic blockers Ni2+ and Cd2+ are moderately effective compared to La3+. The current through the Ca(v)3.1 channel inactivates faster with Ba2+ compared to Ca2+. Molecular determinants of fast inactivation are located in amino side of the intracellular carboxy terminus. The voltage dependence of charge movement is very shallow compared to the voltage dependence of current activation. Transfer of 30 % of charge correlates with activation of 70 % of measurable macroscopic current. Prolonged depolarization does not immobilize charge movement of the Ca(v)3.1 channel.

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