To define the relationship between the two ryanodine receptor (RyR) isoforms present in chicken skeletal muscle, we cloned two groups of cDNAs encoding the chicken homologues of mammalian RyR1 and RyR3. Equivalent amounts of the two chicken isoform mRNAs were detected in thigh and pectoral skeletal muscles. RyR1 and RyR3 mRNAs were co-expressed in testis and cerebellum whereas RyR3 mRNA was expressed also in cerebrum and heart. The full-length sequence of the chicken RyR3 cDNA was established. The RyR3 receptor from chicken had the same general structure as mammalian and amphibian RyRs. The 15089 nt cDNA encoded a 4869-amino-acid-long protein with a molecular mass of 552445. The predicted amino acid sequence of the chicken RyR3 showed 86.9% identity to mammalian RyR3 and 85.6% to frog RyR3. Antibodies specific for chicken RyR1 and RyR3 recognized two different proteins with an apparent molecular mass of about 500 kDa. The two proteins differ slightly in their apparent molecular mass on SDS/PAGE: the protein recognized by antibodies against RyR3 had a higher mobility than the protein recognized by the antiserum against RyR1. Antibodies against RyR1 detected a protein already present in chicken skeletal muscle from 12-day-old embryos and older, while antibodies against RyR3 isoform detected a protein in muscle from only 18-day-old embryos and older. The expression patterns of RyR1 and RyR3 superimpose with those previously reported for the α and the β isoforms respectively. We conclude that α and β isoforms present in chicken skeletal muscle are the homologues of mammalian RyR1 and RyR3.

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