Structure of the voltage-gated calcium channel Ca(v)1.1 at 3.6 Å resolution

Nature. 2016 Sep 8;537(7619):191-196. doi: 10.1038/nature19321. Epub 2016 Aug 31.


The voltage-gated calcium (Cav) channels convert membrane electrical signals to intracellular Ca2+-mediated events. Among the ten subtypes of Cav channel in mammals, Cav1.1 is specified for the excitation-contraction coupling of skeletal muscles. Here we present the cryo-electron microscopy structure of the rabbit Cav1.1 complex at a nominal resolution of 3.6 Å. The inner gate of the ion-conducting α1-subunit is closed and all four voltage-sensing domains adopt an 'up' conformation, suggesting a potentially inactivated state. The extended extracellular loops of the pore domain, which are stabilized by multiple disulfide bonds, form a windowed dome above the selectivity filter. One side of the dome provides the docking site for the α2δ-1-subunit, while the other side may attract cations through its negative surface potential. The intracellular I-II and III-IV linker helices interact with the β1a-subunit and the carboxy-terminal domain of α1, respectively. Classification of the particles yielded two additional reconstructions that reveal pronounced displacement of β1a and adjacent elements in α1. The atomic model of the Cav1.1 complex establishes a foundation for mechanistic understanding of excitation-contraction coupling and provides a three-dimensional template for molecular interpretations of the functions and disease mechanisms of Cav and Nav channels.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Calcium Channels, L-Type / chemistry*
  • Calcium Channels, L-Type / metabolism
  • Calcium Channels, L-Type / ultrastructure*
  • Cryoelectron Microscopy*
  • Extracellular Space / chemistry
  • Extracellular Space / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Ion Transport
  • Models, Molecular
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Conformation
  • Protein Subunits / chemistry
  • Protein Subunits / metabolism
  • Rabbits


  • Calcium Channels, L-Type
  • Protein Subunits