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Nature. 1989 Mar 9;338(6211):167-70.

Three-dimensional architecture of the calcium channel/foot structure of sarcoplasmic reticulum.

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Wadsworth Center for Laboratories and Research, New York State Department of Health, Albany 12201-0509.


The calcium channel responsible for the release of Ca2+ from the sarcoplasmic reticulum of skeletal muscle during excitation-contraction coupling has recently been identified and purified. The isolated calcium channel has been identified morphologically with the 'foot' structures which are associated with the junctional face membrane of the terminal cisternae of sarcoplasmic reticulum. In situ, the foot structure extends across the gap of the triad junction from the terminal cisternae of the reticulum to the transverse tubule. We describe here the three-dimensional architecture (3.7 nm resolution) of the calcium channel/foot structure from fast-twitch rabbit skeletal muscle, which we determined from electron micrographs of isolated, non-crystalline structures that had been tilted in the electron microscope. The reconstruction reveals two different faces and an internal structure in which stain accumulates at several interconnected locations, which could empty into the junctional gap of the triad junction. The detailed architecture of the channel complex is relevant to understanding both the physical path followed by calcium ions during excitation-contraction coupling and the association of the terminal cisternae and the transverse tubules in the triad junction.

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