In the heart, reliable activation of Ca2+ release from the sarcoplasmic reticulum during the plateau of the ventricular action potential requires synchronous opening of multiple CaV1.2 channels. Yet the mechanisms that coordinate this simultaneous opening during every heartbeat are unclear. Here, we demonstrate that CaV1.2 channels form clusters that undergo dynamic, reciprocal, allosteric interactions. This 'functional coupling' facilitates Ca2+ influx by increasing activation of adjoined channels and occurs through C-terminal-to-C-terminal interactions. These interactions are initiated by binding of incoming Ca2+ to calmodulin (CaM) and proceed through Ca2+/CaM binding to the CaV1.2 pre-IQ domain. Coupling fades as [Ca2+]i decreases, but persists longer than the current that evoked it, providing evidence for 'molecular memory'. Our findings suggest a model for CaV1.2 channel gating and Ca2+-influx amplification that unifies diverse observations about Ca2+ signaling in the heart, and challenges the long-held view that voltage-gated channels open and close independently.
Animal experimentation: This study was performed in strict accordance with the recommendations in the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals of the National Institutes of Health. All of the animals were handled according to approved institutional animal care and use committee (IACUC) protocols (#3374-01) of the University of Washington.
- Richard Aldrich, The University of Texas at Austin, United States
© 2015, Dixon et al.
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