Ca2+-dependent proteolysis of junctophilin-1 and junctophilin-2 in skeletal and cardiac muscle

J Physiol. 2013 Feb 1;591(3):719-29. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2012.243279. Epub 2012 Nov 12.


Excessive increases in intracellular [Ca(2+)] in skeletal muscle fibres cause failure of excitation-contraction coupling by disrupting communication between the dihydropyridine receptors in the transverse tubular system and the Ca(2+) release channels (RyRs) in the sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR), but the exact mechanism is unknown. Previous work suggested a possible role of Ca(2+)-dependent proteolysis in this uncoupling process but found no proteolysis of the dihydropyridine receptors, RyRs or triadin. Junctophilin-1 (JP1; ∼90 kDa) stabilizes close apposition of the transverse tubular system and SR membranes in adult skeletal muscle; its C-terminal end is embedded in the SR and its N-terminal associates with the transverse tubular system membrane. Exposure of skeletal muscle homogenates to precisely set [Ca(2+)] revealed that JP1 undergoes Ca(2+)-dependent proteolysis over the physiological [Ca(2+)] range in tandem with autolytic activation of endogenous μ-calpain. Cleavage of JP1 occurs close to the C-terminal, yielding a ∼75 kDa diffusible fragment and a fixed ∼15 kDa fragment. Depolarization-induced force responses in rat skinned fibres were abolished following 1 min exposure to 40 μm Ca(2+), with accompanying loss of full-length JP1. Supraphysiological stimulation of rat skeletal muscle in vitro by repeated tetanic stimulation in 30 mm caffeine also produced marked proteolysis of JP1 (and not RyR1). In dystrophic mdx mice, JP1 proteolysis is seen in limb muscles at 4 and not at 10 weeks of age. Junctophilin-2 in cardiac and skeletal muscle also undergoes Ca(2+)-dependent proteolysis, and junctophilin-2 levels are reduced following cardiac ischaemia-reperfusion. Junctophilin proteolysis may contribute to skeletal muscle weakness and cardiac dysfunction in a range of circumstances.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Calcium / physiology*
  • Heart / physiology*
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Male
  • Membrane Proteins / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Inbred mdx
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Myocardium / metabolism*
  • Proteolysis
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Young Adult


  • Membrane Proteins
  • junctophilin
  • Calcium