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Biophys J. 1993 Dec;65(6):2418-27.

The fastest contracting muscles of nonmammalian vertebrates express only one isoform of the ryanodine receptor.

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Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy, University of Chicago, Illinois 60637.


The skeletal muscles of chickens, frogs, and fish have been reported to express two isoforms (alpha and beta) of the sarcoplasmic reticulum calcium release channel (ryanodine receptor or RYR), while mammals express only one. We have studied patterns of RYR isoform expression in skeletal muscles from a variety of fish, reptiles, and birds with immunological techniques. Immunoblot analysis with a monoclonal antibody that recognizes both nonmammalian RYR isoforms and a polyclonal antibody specific to the alpha isoform show two key results: (a) two reptilian orders share with mammals the pattern of expressing only the alpha (skeletal) RYR isoform in skeletal muscle; and (b) certain functionally specialized muscles of fish and birds express only the alpha RYR isoforms. While both isoforms are expressed in the body musculature of fish and birds, the alpha isoform is expressed alone in extraocular muscles and swimbladder muscles. The appearance of the alpha RYR isoform alone in the extraocular muscles and a fast-contracting sonic muscle in fish (toadfish swimbladder muscle) provides evidence that this isoform is selectively expressed when rapid contraction is required. The functional and phylogenetic implications of expression of the alpha isoform alone are discussed in the context of the mechanism and evolution of excitation-contraction coupling.

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