Molecular determinants of drug binding and action on L-type calcium channels

Annu Rev Pharmacol Toxicol. 1997:37:361-96. doi: 10.1146/annurev.pharmtox.37.1.361.


The crucial role of L-type Ca2+ channels in the initiation of cardiac and smooth muscle contraction has made them major therapeutic targets for the treatment of cardiovascular disease. L-type channels share a common pharmacological profile, including high-affinity voltage- and frequency-dependent block by the phenylalkylamines, the benz(othi)azepines, and the dihydropyridines. These drugs are thought to bind to three separate receptor sites on L-type Ca2+ channels that are allosterically linked. Results from different experimental approaches implicate the IIIS5, IIIS6, and IVS6 transmembrane segments of the alpha 1 subunits of L-type Ca2+ channels in binding of all three classes of drugs. Site-directed mutagenesis has identified single amino acid residues within the IIIS5, IIIS6, and IVS6 transmembrane segments that are required for high-affinity binding of phenylalkylamines and/or dihydropyridines, providing further support for identification of these transmembrane segments as critical elements of the receptor sites for these two classes of drugs. The close proximity of the receptor sites for phenylalkylamines, benz(othi)azepines, and dihydropyridines raises the possibility that individual amino acid residues may be required for high-affinity binding of more than one of these ligands. Therefore, we suggest that phenylalkylamines and dihydropyridines bind to different faces of the IIIS6 and IVS6 transmembrane segments and, in some cases, bind to opposite sides of the side chains of the same amino acid residues. The results support the domain interface model for binding and channel modulation by these three classes of drugs.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Benzazepines / metabolism
  • Benzazepines / pharmacology
  • Binding Sites
  • Calcium Channel Blockers / metabolism
  • Calcium Channel Blockers / pharmacology
  • Calcium Channels / chemistry
  • Calcium Channels / drug effects
  • Calcium Channels / metabolism*
  • Dihydropyridines / metabolism
  • Dihydropyridines / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Mutagenesis, Site-Directed
  • Mutation
  • Phenethylamines / metabolism
  • Phenethylamines / pharmacology
  • Protein Binding / drug effects


  • Benzazepines
  • Calcium Channel Blockers
  • Calcium Channels
  • Dihydropyridines
  • Phenethylamines