Ca2+-induced Ca2+ release and pH-induced Ca2+ release activities were identified in sarcoplasmic-reticulum (SR) vesicles isolated from adult- and fetal-sheep hearts. Ca2+-induced Ca2+ release and pH-induced Ca2+ release appear to proceed via the same channels, since both phenomena are similarly inhibited by Ruthenium Red. Ca2+ release from fetal SR vesicles is inhibited by higher concentrations of Ruthenium Red than is that from adult membranes. Both fetal and adult SR vesicles bind ryanodine. Fetal SR shows higher ryanodine-binding capacity than adult SR vesicles. Scatchard analysis of ryanodine binding revealed only one high-affinity binding site (Kd 6.7 nM) in fetal SR vesicles compared with two distinct binding sites (Kd 6.6 and 81.5 nM) in the adult SR vesicles. SR vesicles isolated from fetal and adult hearts were separated on discontinuous sucrose gradients into light (free) and heavy (junctional) SR vesicles. Heavy SR vesicles isolated from adult hearts exhibited most of the Ca2+ release activities. In contrast, Ca2+-induced Ca2+ release, pH-induced Ca2+ release and ryanodine receptors were detected in both light and heavy fetal SR. These results suggest that fetal SR may not be morphologically and functionally as well differentiated as that of adult cardiac muscle and that it may contain a greater number of Ca2+-release channels than that present in adult SR membranes.

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