Ryanodine receptor calcium release channels: an evolutionary perspective

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2012;740:159-82. doi: 10.1007/978-94-007-2888-2_7.


Ryanodine receptors (RyRs), along with the related inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate receptors (IP(3)Rs), mediate the release of Ca(2+) from intracellular organelles of eukaryotes. As discussed in other chapters, such increases in intracellular Ca(2+) levels act a fundamental second messenger, regulating a diverse array of cellular processes. For over two decades, it has been reported that vertebrates express multiple RYR genes, whereas non-vertebrate multicellular organisms possess a single homologue within their genomes. Recently, the existence of RyR-like channels in unicellular organisms has also been reported. This chapter exploits recent expansions in available genome data to generate an overview of the expression of RyR-like genes in organisms representing a broad range of viral, archaeal, bacterial and eukaryotic taxa. Analyses of the multidomain structures and phylogenetic relationships of these proteins has lead to a model in which, early during eukaryotic evolution, IP(3)R-like ancestral Ca(2+) release channels were converted to RyR proteins via the addition of promiscuous protein domains, possibly via horizontal gene transfer mechanisms.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Gene Transfer, Horizontal
  • Humans
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Ryanodine Receptor Calcium Release Channel / chemistry
  • Ryanodine Receptor Calcium Release Channel / genetics
  • Ryanodine Receptor Calcium Release Channel / physiology*


  • Ryanodine Receptor Calcium Release Channel
  • Calcium