Voltage-independent calcium release in heart muscle

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Science  26 Oct 1990:
Vol. 250, Issue 4980, pp. 565-568
DOI: 10.1126/science.2173135


The Ca2+ that activates contraction in heart muscle is regulated as in skeletal muscle by processes that depend on voltage and intracellular Ca2+ and involve a positive feedback system. How the initial electrical signal is amplified in heart muscle has remained controversial, however. Analogous protein structures from skeletal muscle and heart muscle have been identified physiologically and sequenced; these include the Ca2+ channel of the sarcolemma and the Ca2+ release channel of the sarcoplasmic reticulum. Although the parallels found in cardiac and skeletal muscles have provoked valuable experiments in both tissues, separation of the effects of voltage and intracellular Ca2+ on sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ release in heart muscle has been imperfect. With the use of caged Ca2+ and flash photolysis in voltage-clamped heart myocytes, effects of membrane potential in heart muscle cells on Ca2+ release from intracellular stores have been studied. Unlike the response in skeletal muscle, voltage across the sarcolemma of heart muscle does not affect the release of Ca2+ from the sarcoplasmic reticulum, suggesting that other regulatory processes are needed to control Ca2(+)-induced Ca2+ release.

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