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Structural requirements of the dihydropyridine receptor alpha1S II-III loop for skeletal-type excitation-contraction coupling.

Gerlinde Kugler, Regina G Weiss, Bernhard E Flucher, Manfred Grabner

J. Biol. Chem., 2004 Feb 6 , 279, 4721-8

Residues Leu720-Leu764 within the II-III loop of the skeletal muscle dihydropyridine receptor (DHPR) alpha1S subunit represent a critical domain for the orthograde excitation-contraction coupling as well as for retrograde DHPR L-current-enhancing coupling with the ryanodine receptor (RyR1). To better understand the molecular mechanism underlying this bidirectional DHPR-RyR1 signaling interaction, we analyzed the critical domain to the single amino acid level. To this end, constructs based on the highly dissimilar housefly DHPR II-III loop in an otherwise skeletal DHPR as an interaction-inert sequence background were expressed in dysgenic (alpha1S-null) myotubes for simultaneous recordings of depolarization-induced intracellular Ca2+ transients (orthograde coupling) and whole-cell Ca2+ currents (retrograde coupling). In the minimal skeletal II-III loop sequence (Asp734-Asp748 required for full bidirectional coupling, eight amino acids heterologous between skeletal and cardiac DHPR were exchanged for the corresponding cardiac residues. Four of these skeletal-specific residues (Ala739, Phe741, Pro742, and Asp744) turned out to be essential for orthograde and two of them (Ala739 and Phe741) for retrograde coupling, indicating that orthograde coupling does not necessarily correlate with retrograde signaling. Secondary structure predictions of the critical domain show that an alpha-helical (cardiac sequence-type) conformation of a cluster of negatively charged residues (Asp744-Glu751 of alpha1S) corresponds with significantly reduced Ca2+ transients. Conversely, a predicted random coil structure (skeletal sequence-type) seems to be prerequisite for the restoration of skeletal-type excitation-contraction coupling. Thus, not only the primary but also the secondary structure of the critical domain is an essential determinant of the tissue-specific mode of EC coupling.