Ryanodine receptors (RyR) are calcium release channels, playing a major role in the regulation of muscular contraction. Mutations in skeletal muscle RyR (RyR1) are associated with congenital diseases such as malignant hyperthermia and central core disease (CCD). The absence of high-resolution structures of RyR1 has limited our understanding of channel function and disease mechanisms at the molecular level. Previously, we have reported a hypothetical structure of the RyR1 pore-forming region, obtained by homology modeling and supported by mutational scans, electrophysiological measurements, and cryo-electron microscopy. Here, we utilize the expanded model encompassing six transmembrane helices to calculate the RyR1 pore region conductance, to analyze its structural stability, and to hypothesize the mechanism of the Ile4897 CCD-associated mutation. The calculated conductance of the wild-type RyR1 suggests that the proposed pore structure can sustain ion currents measured in single-channel experiments. We observe a stable pore structure on timescales of 0.2 μs, with multiple cations occupying the selectivity filter and cytosolic vestibule, but not the inner chamber. We further suggest that stability of the selectivity filter critically depends on the interactions between the I4897 residue and several hydrophobic residues of the neighboring subunit. Loss of these interactions in the case of polar substitution I4897T results in destabilization of the selectivity filter, a possible cause of the CCD-specific reduced Ca(2+) conductance.
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