Subunit interaction sites in voltage-dependent Ca2+ channels: role in channel function

Trends Neurosci. 1998 Apr;21(4):148-54. doi: 10.1016/s0166-2236(97)01200-9.


Voltage-dependent Ca2+ channels are heteromeric complexes found in the plasma membrane of virtually all cell types and show a high level of electrophysiological and pharmacological diversity. Associated with the pore-forming alpha 1 subunit are the membrane anchored, largely extracellular alpha2-delta, the cytoplasmic beta and sometimes a transmembrane gamma subunit; these subunits dramatically influence the properties and surface expression of these channels. Effects vary depending on subunit isoforms, suggesting that functional diversity of native channels reflects heterogeneity of combinations. Interaction sites between subunits have been identified and advances have been made in our understanding of the molecular basis of functional effects of the auxiliary subunits, their capacity to be regulated by G proteins, and their interaction with related cellular systems.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Calcium Channels / chemistry*
  • Calcium Channels / physiology*
  • Calcium Channels, N-Type*
  • Ion Channel Gating / physiology*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Neurons / chemistry
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary


  • Calcium Channels
  • Calcium Channels, N-Type
  • voltage-dependent calcium channel (P-Q type)