This review focuses on muscle disorders and diseases caused by defects in the Ca(2+) release channels of the sarcoplasmic reticulum, the ryanodine receptors, and in the luminal, low affinity, high capacity Ca(2+)-binding proteins, calsequestrins. It provides a time line over the past half century of the highlights of research on malignant hyperthermia (MH), central core disease (CCD) and catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia (CPVT), that resulted in the identification of the ryanodine receptor (RYR), calsequestrin (CASQ) and dihydropyridine receptor (CACNA1S) genes as sites of disease-causing mutations. This is followed by a description of approaches to functional analysis of the effects of disease-causing mutations on protein function, focusing on studies of how mutations affect spontaneous (store overload-induced) Ca(2+)-release from the sarcoplasmic reticulum, the underlying cause of MH and CPVT. Subsequent sections describe results obtained by analysis of knockin mouse lines carrying MH- and CCD-causing mutations, including a Casq1 knockout. The review concludes with the presentation of two mechanistic models. The first shows how dysregulation of Ca(2+) homeostasis can lead to muscle diseases involving both RyR and Casq proteins. The second describes a theory of central core formation wherein non-uniformity of Ca(2+) release, resulting in non-uniformity of muscle contraction, is presented as an intrinsic property of the specific tertiary structure of mutant heterotetrameric ryanodine receptors and as the underlying cause of core formation in skeletal muscle. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: 11th European Symposium on Calcium.
2010. Published by Elsevier B.V.