The inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate receptor (InsP3R), an intracellular calcium release channel, is found in virtually all cells and is abundant in the cerebellum. We used Mn2+ as a tool to study two aspects of the cerebellar InsP3R. First, to investigate the structure of the ion pore, Mn2+ permeation through the channel was determined. We found that Mn2+ can pass through the InsP3R; the selectivity sequence for divalent cations is Ba2+ > Sr2+ > Ca2+ > Mg2+ > Mn2+. Second, to begin characterization of the cytosolic regulatory sites responsible for the Ca(2+)-dependent modulation of InsP3R function, the ability of Mn2+ to replace Ca2+ was investigated. We show that Mn2+, as Ca2+, modulates InsP3R activity with a bell-shaped dependence where the affinity of the activation site of the InsP3R is similar for both ions, but higher concentrations of Mn2+ were necessary to inhibit the channel. These results suggest that the two regulatory sites are structurally distinct. Our findings are also important for the understanding of cellular responses when Mn2+ is used to quench the intracellular fluorescence of Ca2+ indicator dyes.

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