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Pflugers Arch. 2013 Jul;465(7):985-96. doi: 10.1007/s00424-013-1223-2. Epub 2013 Apr 16.

Characterization of the first honeybee Ca²⁺ channel subunit reveals two novel species- and splicing-specific modes of regulation of channel inactivation.

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CRBM, UMR 5237, CNRS, Université de Montpellier I&II, Montpellier, France.


The honeybee is a model system to study learning and memory, and Ca(2+) signals play a key role in these processes. We have cloned, expressed, and characterized the first honeybee Ca(2+) channel subunit. We identified two splice variants of the Apis CaVβ Ca(2+) channel subunit (Am-CaVβ) and demonstrated expression in muscle and neurons. Although AmCaVβ shares with vertebrate CaVβ subunits the SH3 and GK domains, it beholds a unique N terminus that is alternatively spliced in the first exon to produce a long (a) and short (b) variant. When expressed with the CaV2 channels both, AmCaVβa and AmCaVβb, increase current amplitude, shift the voltage-sensitivity of the channel, and slow channel inactivation as the vertebrate CaVβ2a subunit does. However, as opposed to CaVβ2a, slow inactivation induced by Am-CaVβa was insensitive to palmitoylation but displayed a unique PI3K sensitivity. Inactivation produced by the b variant was PI3K-insensitive but staurosporine/H89-sensitive. Deletion of the first exon suppressed the sensitivity to PI3K inhibitors, staurosporine, or H89. Recording of Ba(2+) currents in Apis neurons or muscle cells evidenced a sensitivity to PI3K inhibitors and H89, suggesting that both AmCaVβ variants may be important to couple cell signaling to Ca(2+) entry in vivo. Functional interactions with phospho-inositide and identification of phosphorylation sites in AmCaVβa and AmCaVβb N termini, respectively, suggest that AmCaVβ splicing promoted two novel and alternative modes of regulation of channel activity with specific signaling pathways. This is the first description of a splicing-dependent kinase switch in the regulation of Ca(2+) channel activity by CaVβ subunit.

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