In cardiac myocytes, LTCCs (L-type calcium channels) form a functional signalling complex with ryanodine receptors at the JM (junctional membrane). Although the specific localization of LTCCs to the JM is critical for excitation–contraction coupling, their targeting mechanism is unclear. Transient transfection of GFP (green fluorescent protein)–α1S or GFP–α1C, but not P/Q-type calcium channel α1A, in dysgenic (α1S-null) GLT myotubes results in correct targeting of these LTCCs to the JMs and restoration of action-potential-induced Ca2+ transients. To identify the sequences of α1C responsible for JM targeting, we generated a range of α1C–α1A chimaeras, deletion mutants and alanine substitution mutants and studied their targeting properties in GLT myotubes. The results revealed that amino acids L1681QAGLRTL1688 and P1693EIRRAIS1700, predicted to form two adjacent α-helices in the proximal C-terminus, are necessary for the JM targeting of α1C. The efficiency of restoration of action-potential-induced Ca2+ transients in GLT myotubes was significantly decreased by mutations in the targeting motif. JM targeting was not disrupted by the distal C-terminus of α1C which binds to the second α-helix. Therefore we have identified a new structural motif in the C-terminus of α1C that mediates the targeting of cardiac LTCCs to JMs independently of the interaction between proximal and distal C-termini of α1C.

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