The 12- and 12.6-kDa FK506-binding proteins, FKBP12 (12-kDa FK506-binding protein) and FKBP12.6 (12.6-kDa FK506-binding protein), have been implicated in the binding to and the regulation of ryanodine receptors (RyRs) and inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate receptors (IP3Rs), both tetrameric intracellular Ca2+-release channels. Whereas the amino acid sequences responsible for FKBP12 binding to RyRs are conserved in IP3Rs, FKBP12 binding to IP3Rs has been questioned and could not be observed in various experimental models. Nevertheless, conservation of these residues in the different IP3R isoforms and during evolution suggested that they could harbour an important regulatory site critical for IP3R-channel function. Recently, it has become clear that in IP3Rs, this site was targeted by B-cell lymphoma 2 (Bcl-2) via its Bcl-2 homology (BH)4 domain, thereby dampening IP3R-mediated Ca2+ flux and preventing pro-apoptotic Ca2+ signalling. Furthermore, vice versa, the presence of the corresponding site in RyRs implied that Bcl-2 proteins could associate with and regulate RyR channels. Recently, the existence of endogenous RyR–Bcl-2 complexes has been identified in primary hippocampal neurons. Like for IP3Rs, binding of Bcl-2 to RyRs also involved its BH4 domain and suppressed RyR-mediated Ca2+ release. We therefore propose that the originally identified FKBP12-binding site in IP3Rs is a region critical for controlling IP3R-mediated Ca2+ flux by recruiting Bcl-2 rather than FKBP12. Although we hypothesize that anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 proteins, but not FKBP12, are the main physiological inhibitors of IP3Rs, we cannot exclude that Bcl-2 could help engaging FKBP12 (or other FKBP isoforms) to the IP3R, potentially via calcineurin.

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