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J Gen Physiol. 1996 Jun;107(6):731-42.

Unitary behavior of skeletal, cardiac, and chimeric L-type Ca2+ channels expressed in dysgenic myotubes.

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  • 1Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins 80523, USA.


Skeletal and cardiac dihydropyridine receptors function both as voltage-dependent L-type calcium channels (L-channels) and as critical proteins that trigger calcium release from the sarcoplasmic reticulum in muscle. In spite of these similarities, skeletal L-channels exhibit a markedly slower activation rate than cardiac L-channels. We investigated the mechanisms underlying this difference by comparing the unitary behavior of L-channels in cell-attached patches of dysgenic myotubes expressing skeletal, cardiac, or chimeric dihydropyridine receptors. Our results demonstrate that ensemble averages activate rapidly for the purely cardiac dihydropyridine receptor and approximately five times more slowly for L-channels attributable to the purely skeletal dihydropyridine receptor or a chimeric dihydropyridine receptor in which only the first internal repeat and all of the putative intracellular loops are of skeletal origin. All of the constructs studied similarly exhibit a brief (2-ms) and a long (> or = 15-ms) open time in the presence of Bay K 8644, neither of which depend significantly on voltage. In the absence of Bay K 8644, the fraction of total open events is markedly shifted to the briefer open time without altering the rate of ensemble activation. Closed time analysis of L-channels with cardiac-like, rapid activation (recorded in the presence of dihydropyridine agonist) reveals both a brief (approximately 1-ms) closed time and a second, voltage-dependent, long-lasting closed time. The time until first opening after depolarization is three to six times faster for rapidly activating L-channels than for slowly activating L-channels and depends strongly on voltage for both types of channels. The results suggest that a voltage-dependent, closed-closed transition that is fast in cardiac L-channels and slow in skeletal L-channels can account for the difference in activation rate between these two channels.

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