Excitation-contraction (E-C) coupling is thought to involve close interactions between the calcium release channel (ryanodine receptor; RyR) of the sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) and the dihydropyridine receptor (DHPR) alpha 1 subunit in the T-tubule membrane. Triadin, a 95-kD protein isolated from heavy SR, binds both the RyR and DHPR and may thus participate in E-C coupling or in interactions responsible for the formation of SR/T-tubule junctions. Immunofluorescence labeling of normal mouse myotubes shows that the RyR and triadin co-aggregate with the DHPR in punctate clusters upon formation of functional junctions. Dysgenic myotubes with a deficiency in the alpha 1 subunit of the DHPR show reduced expression and clustering of RyR and triadin; however, both proteins are still capable of forming clusters and attaining mature cross-striated distributions. Thus, the molecular organization of the RyR and triadin in the terminal cisternae of SR as well as its association with the T-tubules are independent of interactions with the DHPR alpha 1 subunit. Analysis of calcium transients in dysgenic myotubes with fluorescent calcium indicators reveals spontaneous and caffeine-induced calcium release from intracellular stores similar to those of normal muscle; however, depolarization-induced calcium release is absent. Thus, characteristic calcium release properties of the RyR do not require interactions with the DHPR; neither do they require the normal organization of the RyR in the terminal SR cisternae. In hybrids of dysgenic myotubes fused with normal cells, both action potential-induced calcium transients and the normal clustered organization of the RyR are restored in regions expressing the DHPR alpha 1 subunit.

This content is only available as a PDF.