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1.  Functional analysis of a frame-shift mutant of the dihydropyridine receptor pore subunit (α1S) expressing two complementary protein fragments 
BMC Physiology  2001;1:15.
Background
The L-type Ca2+ channel formed by the dihydropyridine receptor (DHPR) of skeletal muscle senses the membrane voltage and opens the ryanodine receptor (RyR1). This channel-to-channel coupling is essential for Ca2+ signaling but poorly understood. We characterized a single-base frame-shift mutant of α1S, the pore subunit of the DHPR, that has the unusual ability to function voltage sensor for excitation-contraction (EC) coupling by virtue of expressing two complementary hemi-Ca2+ channel fragments.
Results
Functional analysis of cDNA transfected dysgenic myotubes lacking α1S were carried out using voltage-clamp, confocal Ca2+ indicator fluoresence, epitope immunofluorescence and immunoblots of expressed proteins. The frame-shift mutant (fs-α1S) expressed the N-terminal half of α1S (M1 to L670) and the C-terminal half starting at M701 separately. The C-terminal fragment was generated by an unexpected restart of translation of the fs-α1S message at M701 and was eliminated by a M701I mutation. Protein-protein complementation between the two fragments produced recovery of skeletal-type EC coupling but not L-type Ca2+ current.
Discussion
A premature stop codon in the II-III loop may not necessarily cause a loss of DHPR function due to a restart of translation within the II-III loop, presumably by a mechanism involving leaky ribosomal scanning. In these cases, function is recovered by expression of complementary protein fragments from the same cDNA. DHPR-RyR1 interactions can be achieved via protein-protein complementation between hemi-Ca2+ channel proteins, hence an intact II-III loop is not essential for coupling the DHPR voltage sensor to the opening of RyR1 channel.
PMCID: PMC64647  PMID: 11806762
2.  Modulation of L-type Ca2+ current but not activation of Ca2+ release by the gamma1 subunit of the dihydropyridine receptor of skeletal muscle 
BMC Physiology  2001;1:8.
Background
The multisubunit (α1S,α2-δ, β1a and γ1) skeletal muscle dihydropyridine receptor (DHPR) transduces membrane depolarization into release of Ca2+ from the sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) and also acts as an L-type Ca2+ channel. To more fully investigate the function of the γ1 subunit in these two processes, we produced mice lacking this subunit by gene targeting.
Results
Mice lacking the DHPR γ1 subunit (γ1 null) survive to adulthood, are fertile and have no obvious gross phenotypic abnormalities. The γ1 subunit is expressed at approximately half the normal level in heterozygous mice (γ1 het). The density of the L-type Ca2+ current in γ1 null and γ1 het myotubes was higher than in controls. Inactivation of the Ca2+ current produced by a long depolarization was slower and incomplete in γ1 null and γ1 het myotubes, and was shifted to a more positive potential than in controls. However, the half-activation potential of intramembrane charge movements was not shifted, and the maximum density of the total charge was unchanged. Also, no shift was observed in the voltage-dependence of Ca2+ transients. γ1 null and γ1 het myotubes had the same peak Ca2+ amplitude vs. voltage relationship as control myotubes.
Conclusions
The L-type Ca2+ channel function, but not the SR Ca2+ release triggering function of the skeletal muscle dihydropyridine receptor, is modulated by the γ1 subunit.
PMCID: PMC37314  PMID: 11495636

Results 1-2 (2)