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Concept: Ryanodine


The ryanodine receptor (RyR) family of calcium release channels plays a vital role in excitation-contraction coupling (ECC). Along with the dihydropyridine receptor (DHPR), calsequestrin, and several other smaller regulatory and adaptor proteins, RyRs form a large dynamic complex referred to as ECC machinery. Here we describe a simple cross-linking procedure that can be used to stabilize fragile components of the ECC machinery, for the purpose of structural elucidation by single particle cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM). As a model system, the complex of the FK506-binding protein (FKBP12) and RyR1 was used to test the cross-linking protocol. Glutaraldehyde fixation led to complete cross-linking of receptor-bound FKBP12 to RyR1, and also to extensive cross-linking of the four subunits comprising RyR to one another without compromising the RyR1 ultrastructure. FKBP12 cross-linked with RyR1 was visualized in 2D averages by single particle cryo-EM. Comparison of control RyR1 and cross-linked RyR1 3D reconstructions revealed minor conformational changes at the transmembrane assembly and at the cytoplasmic region. Intersubunit cross-linking enhanced [(3)H]ryanodine binding to RyR1. Based on our findings we propose that intersubunit cross-linking of RyR1 by glutaraldehyde induced RyR1 to adopt an open like conformation.

Concepts: Protein, Protein structure, Cell membrane, Receptor, Ryanodine receptor, Ryanodine, Calcium channel, RYR1


Dental enamel formation requires large quantities of Ca(2+) yet the mechanisms mediating Ca(2+) dynamics in enamel cells are unclear. Store-operated Ca(2+) entry (SOCE) channels are important Ca(2+) influx mechanisms in many cells. SOCE involves release of Ca(2+) from intracellular pools followed by Ca(2+) entry. The best-characterized SOCE channels are the Ca(2+) release-activated Ca(2+) (CRAC) channels. As patients with mutations in the CRAC channel genes STIM1 and ORAI1 show abnormal enamel mineralization, we hypothesized that CRAC channels might be an important Ca(2+) uptake mechanism in enamel cells. Investigating primary murine enamel cells, we found that key components of CRAC channels (ORAI1, ORAI2, ORAI3, STIM1, STIM2) were expressed and most abundant during the maturation stage of enamel development. Furthermore, inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate receptor (IP3R) but not ryanodine receptor (RyR) expression was high in enamel cells suggesting that IP3Rs are the main ER Ca(2+) release mechanism. Passive depletion of ER Ca(2+) stores with thapsigargin resulted in a significant raise in [Ca(2+)]i consistent with SOCE. In cells pre-treated with the CRAC channel blocker Synta-66 Ca(2+) entry was significantly inhibited. These data demonstrate that enamel cells have SOCE mediated by CRAC channels and implicate them as a mechanism for Ca(2+) uptake in enamel formation.

Concepts: Protein, Gene expression, Cell membrane, Receptor, Ryanodine receptor, Tooth enamel, Ryanodine, STIM1


Aberrant Zn(2+)-homeostasis is a hallmark of certain cardiomyopathies associated with altered contractile force. In this study we addressed whether Zn(2+) modulates cardiac ryanodine receptor gating and Ca(2+)-dynamics in isolated cardiomyocytes. We reveal that Zn(2+) is a high affinity regulator of RyR2 displaying three modes of operation. Picomolar free Zn(2+) concentrations potentiate RyR2 responses but channel activation is still dependent on the presence of cytosolic Ca(2+). At concentrations of free Zn(2+) >1 nM, Zn(2+) is the main activating ligand and the dependency on Ca(2+) is removed. Zn(2+) is therefore a higher affinity activator of RyR2 than Ca(2+). Millimolar levels of free Zn(2+) were found to inhibit channel openings. In cardiomyocytes, consistent with our single-channel results, we show that Zn(2+) modulates both the frequency and amplitude of Ca(2+) waves in a concentration dependent manner and that physiological levels of Zn(2+) elicit Ca(2+)-release in the absence of activating levels of cytosolic Ca(2+). This highlights a new role for intracellular Zn(2+) in shaping Ca(2+)-dynamics in cardiomyocytes through modulation of RyR2 gating.

Concepts: Cell membrane, Concentration, Receptor, Ryanodine receptor, Wavelength, Modulation, Molar concentration, Ryanodine


Spontaneous Ca(2+) release from intracellular stores is important for various physiological and pathological processes. In cardiac muscle cells, spontaneous store overload-induced Ca(2+) release (SOICR) can result in Ca(2+) waves, a major cause of ventricular tachyarrhythmias (VTs) and sudden death. The molecular mechanism underlying SOICR has been a mystery for decades. Here we show that a point mutation, E4872A, in the helix bundle crossing region (the proposed gate) of the cardiac ryanodine receptor (RyR2) completely abolishes luminal, but not cytosolic, Ca(2+) activation of RyR2. The introduction of metal-binding histidines at this site converts RyR2 into a luminal Ni(2+)-gated channel. Mouse hearts harboring a heterozygous RyR2 mutation at this site (E4872Q) are resistant to SOICR and are completely protected against Ca(2+)-triggered VTs. These data show that the RyR2 gate directly senses luminal (store) Ca(2+), explaining the regulation of RyR2 by luminal Ca(2+), the initiation of Ca(2+) waves and Ca(2+)-triggered arrhythmias. This newly identified store-sensing gate structure is conserved in all RyR and inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate receptor isoforms.

Concepts: Heart, Muscle, Cardiac muscle, Receptor, Ryanodine receptor, Muscle contraction, Ryanodine


Alteration of ryanodine receptor (RyR)-mediated calcium (Ca(2+)) signaling has been reported in Alzheimer disease (AD) models. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying altered RyR-mediated intracellular Ca(2+) release in AD remain to be fully elucidated. We report here that RyR2 undergoes post-translational modifications (phosphorylation, oxidation, and nitrosylation) in SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells expressing the β-amyloid precursor protein (βAPP) harboring the familial double Swedish mutations (APPswe). RyR2 macromolecular complex remodeling, characterized by depletion of the regulatory protein calstabin2, resulted in increased cytosolic Ca(2+) levels and mitochondrial oxidative stress. We also report a functional interplay between amyloid β (Aβ), β-adrenergic signaling, and altered Ca(2+) signaling via leaky RyR2 channels. Thus, post-translational modifications of RyR occur downstream of Aβ through a β2-adrenergic signaling cascade that activates PKA. RyR2 remodeling, in turn, enhances βAPP processing. Importantly, pharmacological stabilization of the binding of calstabin2 to RyR2 channels, which prevents Ca(2+) leakage, or blocking the β2-adrenergic signaling cascade reduced βAPP processing and the production of Aβ in APPswe-expressing SH-SY5Y cells. We conclude that targeting RyR-mediated Ca(2+) leakage may be a therapeutic approach to treat AD.

Concepts: Protein, Signal transduction, Adenosine triphosphate, Cell biology, Receptor, Ryanodine receptor, Posttranslational modification, Ryanodine


The type-1 ryanodine receptor (RyR1) is an intracellular calcium (Ca(2+)) release channel required for skeletal muscle contraction. Here, we present cryo-EM reconstructions of RyR1 in multiple functional states revealing the structural basis of channel gating and ligand-dependent activation. Binding sites for the channel activators Ca(2+), ATP, and caffeine were identified at interdomain interfaces of the C-terminal domain. Either ATP or Ca(2+) alone induces conformational changes in the cytoplasmic assembly (“priming”), without pore dilation. In contrast, in the presence of all three activating ligands, high-resolution reconstructions of open and closed states of RyR1 were obtained from the same sample, enabling analyses of conformational changes associated with gating. Gating involves global conformational changes in the cytosolic assembly accompanied by local changes in the transmembrane domain, which include bending of the S6 transmembrane segment and consequent pore dilation, displacement, and deformation of the S4-S5 linker and conformational changes in the pseudo-voltage-sensor domain.

Concepts: Protein, Cell membrane, Receptor, Ryanodine receptor, Muscle contraction, Muscular system, Cytoskeleton, Ryanodine


Ryanodine receptors (RyRs) mediate the rapid release of calcium (Ca(2+)) from intracellular stores into the cytosol, which is essential for numerous cellular functions including excitation-contraction coupling in muscle. Lack of sufficient structural detail has impeded understanding of RyR gating and regulation. Here we report the closed-state structure of the 2.3-megadalton complex of the rabbit skeletal muscle type 1 RyR (RyR1), solved by single-particle electron cryomicroscopy at an overall resolution of 4.8 Å. We fitted a polyalanine-level model to all 3,757 ordered residues in each protomer, defining the transmembrane pore in unprecedented detail and placing all cytosolic domains as tertiary folds. The cytosolic assembly is built on an extended α-solenoid scaffold connecting key regulatory domains to the pore. The RyR1 pore architecture places it in the six-transmembrane ion channel superfamily. A unique domain inserted between the second and third transmembrane helices interacts intimately with paired EF-hands originating from the α-solenoid scaffold, suggesting a mechanism for channel gating by Ca(2+).

Concepts: Protein, Cell membrane, Receptor, Ryanodine receptor, Muscle contraction, Skeletal muscle, Ryanodine, Calcium channel


To characterize the phenotype of patients with symptoms of periodic paralysis (PP) and ryanodine receptor (RYR1) gene mutations.

Concepts: Mutation, Evolution, Receptor, Ryanodine receptor, Symptoms, Ryanodine


The canonical atrial myocyte (AM) is characterized by sparse transverse tubule (TT) invaginations and slow intracellular Ca2+ propagation but exhibits rapid contractile activation that is susceptible to loss of function during hypertrophic remodeling. Here, we have identified a membrane structure and Ca2+-signaling complex that may enhance the speed of atrial contraction independently of phospholamban regulation. This axial couplon was observed in human and mouse atria and is composed of voluminous axial tubules (ATs) with extensive junctions to the sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) that include ryanodine receptor 2 (RyR2) clusters. In mouse AM, AT structures triggered Ca2+ release from the SR approximately 2 times faster at the AM center than at the surface. Rapid Ca2+ release correlated with colocalization of highly phosphorylated RyR2 clusters at AT-SR junctions and earlier, more rapid shortening of central sarcomeres. In contrast, mice expressing phosphorylation-incompetent RyR2 displayed depressed AM sarcomere shortening and reduced in vivo atrial contractile function. Moreover, left atrial hypertrophy led to AT proliferation, with a marked increase in the highly phosphorylated RyR2-pS2808 cluster fraction, thereby maintaining cytosolic Ca2+ signaling despite decreases in RyR2 cluster density and RyR2 protein expression. AT couplon “super-hubs” thus underlie faster excitation-contraction coupling in health as well as hypertrophic compensatory adaptation and represent a structural and metabolic mechanism that may contribute to contractile dysfunction and arrhythmias.

Concepts: Signal transduction, Cell membrane, Receptor, Ryanodine receptor, Muscle contraction, Muscular system, Ryanodine, Ryanodine receptor 2


Aberrant Zn2+-homeostasis is associated with dysregulated intracellular Ca2+ release resulting in chronic heart failure. In the failing heart, a small population of cardiac ryanodine receptors (RyR2) display sub-conductance state gating leading to Ca2+ leakage from sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) stores, which impairs cardiac contractility. Previous evidence suggests contribution of RyR2-independent Ca2+ leakage through an uncharacterized mechanism. We sought to examine the role of Zn2+ in shaping intracellular Ca2+ release in cardiac muscle. Cardiac SR vesicles prepared from sheep or mouse ventricular tissue were incorporated into phospholipid bilayers under voltage-clamp conditions, and the direct action of Zn2+ on RyR2 channel function was examined. Under diastolic conditions, the addition of pathophysiological concentrations of Zn2+ (≥2nM) caused dysregulated RyR2-channel openings. Our data also revealed that RyR2 channels are not the only SR Ca2+-permeable channels regulated by Zn2+. Elevating the cytosolic Zn2+ concentration to 1 nM increased the activity of the transmembrane protein mitsugumin 23 (MG23). The current amplitude of the MG23 full-open state was consistent with that previously reported for RyR2 sub-conductance gating, suggesting that in heart failure in which Zn2+ levels are elevated, RyR2 channels do not gate in a sub-conductance state, but rather MG23 gating becomes more apparent. We also show that in H9C2 cells exposed to ischemic conditions, intracellular Zn2+ levels are elevated, coinciding with increased MG23 expression. In conclusion, these data suggest that dysregulated Zn2+ homeostasis alters the function of both RyR2 and MG23 and that both ion channels play a key role in diastolic SR Ca2+ leakage.

Concepts: Protein, Cell membrane, Cardiology, Heart, Muscle, Receptor, Ryanodine receptor, Ryanodine