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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Mar 20;104(12):5235-40. Epub 2007 Mar 14.

Ca(2+) sparks operated by membrane depolarization require isoform 3 ryanodine receptor channels in skeletal muscle.

Author information

  • 1Section of Cellular Signaling, Department of Molecular Biophysics and Physiology, Rush University, 1750 West Harrison Street, Suite 1279JS, Chicago, IL 60612, USA.

Erratum in

  • Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Aug 14;104(33):13531.


Stimuli are translated to intracellular calcium signals via opening of inositol trisphosphate receptor and ryanodine receptor (RyR) channels of the sarcoplasmic reticulum or endoplasmic reticulum. In cardiac and skeletal muscle of amphibians the stimulus is depolarization of the transverse tubular membrane, transduced by voltage sensors at tubular-sarcoplasmic reticulum junctions, and the unit signal is the Ca(2+) spark, caused by concerted opening of multiple RyR channels. Mammalian muscles instead lose postnatally the ability to produce sparks, and they also lose RyR3, an isoform abundant in spark-producing skeletal muscles. What does it take for cells to respond to membrane depolarization with Ca(2+) sparks? To answer this question we made skeletal muscles of adult mice expressing exogenous RyR3, demonstrated as immunoreactivity at triad junctions. These muscles showed abundant sparks upon depolarization. Sparks produced thusly were found to amplify the response to depolarization in a manner characteristic of Ca(2+)-induced Ca(2+) release processes. The amplification was particularly effective in responses to brief depolarizations, as in action potentials. We also induced expression of exogenous RyR1 or yellow fluorescent protein-tagged RyR1 in muscles of adult mice. In these, tag fluorescence was present at triad junctions. RyR1-transfected muscle lacked voltage-operated sparks. Therefore, the voltage-operated sparks phenotype is specific to the RyR3 isoform. Because RyR3 does not contact voltage sensors, their opening was probably activated by Ca(2+), secondarily to Ca(2+) release through junctional RyR1. Physiologically voltage-controlled Ca(2+) sparks thus require a voltage sensor, a master junctional RyR1 channel that provides trigger Ca(2+), and a slave parajunctional RyR3 cohort.

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