The relative position of RyR feet and DHPR tetrads in skeletal muscle

J Mol Biol. 2004 Sep 3;342(1):145-53. doi: 10.1016/j.jmb.2004.07.035.


In skeletal muscle, L-type calcium channels (or dihydropyridine receptors, DHPRs) are coupled functionally to the calcium release channels of the sarcoplasmic reticulum (or ryanodine receptors, RyRs) within specialized structures called calcium release units (CRUs). The functional linkage requires a specific positioning of four DHPRs in correspondence of the four identical subunits of a single RyR type 1. Four DHPRs linked to the four binding sites of the RyR1 cytoplasmic domain (or foot), define the corners of a square, constituting a tetrad. RyRs self-assemble into ordered arrays and by associating with them, DHPRs also assemble into ordered arrays. The approximate location of the four DHPRs relative to the four identical subunits of a RyR-foot can be predicted on the basis of the relative position of tetrads and feet within the arrays. However, until recently one vital piece of information has been lacking: the orientation of the two arrays relative to one another. In this work we have defined the relative orientation of the RyR and DHPR arrays by directly superimposing replicas of rotary shadowed images of rows of feet, obtained from isolated SR vesicles, and replicas of tetrad arrays obtained by freeze-fracture. If the orientation for the two sets of images is carefully maintained, the superimposition provides specific constraints on the DHPR-RyR relative position.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium Channels, L-Type / chemistry*
  • Freeze Fracturing
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Mice
  • Muscle, Skeletal / chemistry*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / cytology
  • Protein Structure, Quaternary
  • Protein Subunits / chemistry
  • Ryanodine Receptor Calcium Release Channel / chemistry*
  • Sarcoplasmic Reticulum / chemistry
  • Sarcoplasmic Reticulum / ultrastructure


  • Calcium Channels, L-Type
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Protein Subunits
  • Ryanodine Receptor Calcium Release Channel