Physiological Reviews

Ryanodine receptors of striated muscles: a complex channel capable of multiple interactions

C. Franzini-Armstrong, F. Protasi


The ryanodine receptor (RyR) is a high-conductance Ca2+ channel of the sarcoplasmic reticulum in muscle and of the endoplasmic reticulum in other cells. In striated muscle fibers, RyRs are responsible for the rapid release of Ca2+ that activates contraction. Ryanodine receptors are complex molecules, with unusually large cytoplasmic domains containing numerous binding sites for agents that control the state of activity of the channel-forming domain of the molecule. Structural considerations indicate that long-range interactions between cytoplasmic and intramembrane domains control channel function. Ryanodine receptors are located in specialized regions of the SR, where they are structurally and functionally associated with other intrinsic proteins and, indirectly, also with the luminal Ca2(+)-binding protein calsequestrin. Activation of RyRs during the early part of the excitation-contraction coupling cascade is initiated by the activity of surface-membrane Ca2+ channels, the dihydropyridine receptors (DHPRs). Skeletal and cardiac muscles contain different RyR and DHPR isoforms and both contribute to the diversity in cardiac and skeletal excitation-contraction coupling mechanisms. The architecture of the sarcoplasmic reticulum-surface junctions determines the types of RyR-DHPR interactions in the two muscle types.