The Ca 2+ influx through the mammalian skeletal muscle dihydropyridine receptor is irrelevant for muscle performance

Nat Commun. 2017 Sep 7;8(1):475. doi: 10.1038/s41467-017-00629-x.


Skeletal muscle excitation-contraction (EC) coupling is initiated by sarcolemmal depolarization, which is translated into a conformational change of the dihydropyridine receptor (DHPR), which in turn activates sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) Ca2+ release to trigger muscle contraction. During EC coupling, the mammalian DHPR embraces functional duality, as voltage sensor and L-type Ca2+ channel. Although its unique role as voltage sensor for conformational EC coupling is firmly established, the conventional function as Ca2+ channel is still enigmatic. Here we show that Ca2+ influx via DHPR is not necessary for muscle performance by generating a knock-in mouse where DHPR-mediated Ca2+ influx is eliminated. Homozygous knock-in mice display SR Ca2+ release, locomotor activity, motor coordination, muscle strength and susceptibility to fatigue comparable to wild-type controls, without any compensatory regulation of multiple key proteins of the EC coupling machinery and Ca2+ homeostasis. These findings support the hypothesis that the DHPR-mediated Ca2+ influx in mammalian skeletal muscle is an evolutionary remnant.In mammalian skeletal muscle, the DHPR functions as a voltage sensor to trigger muscle contraction and as a Ca2+ channel. Here the authors show that mice where Ca2+ influx through the DHPR is eliminated display no difference in skeletal muscle function, suggesting that the Ca2+ influx through this channel is vestigial.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism*
  • Calcium Channels, L-Type / genetics
  • Calcium Channels, L-Type / metabolism*
  • Calcium Signaling
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Muscle Contraction
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Sarcoplasmic Reticulum / metabolism


  • Calcium Channels, L-Type
  • Calcium