Ryanodine receptors (RyRs) are a family of intracellular channels that mediate Ca2+ release from the endoplasmic and sarcoplasmic reticulum. More than 50 distinct point mutations in one member of this family, RyR1, cause malignant hyperthermia, a potentially lethal pharmacogenetic disorder of skeletal muscle. These mutations are not randomly distributed throughout the primary structure of RyR1, but are grouped in three discrete clusters. In this issue of the Biochemical Journal, Kobayashi et al. present evidence that interdomain interactions between two of these mutation-enriched regions play a key role in the gating mechanism of RyR1.

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