Once opened, ryanodine receptors (RyR) are efficient pathways for the release of Ca2+ from the endoplasmic/sarcoplasmic reticulum (ER/SR). The precise nature of the Ca2+-release event, however, requires fine-tuning for the specific process and type of cell involved. For example, the spatial organization of RyRs, the luminal [Ca2+] and the influence of soluble regulators that fluctuate under physiological and pathophysiological control mechanisms, all affect the amplitude and duration of RyR Ca2+ fluxes. Various proteins are docked tightly to the huge bulky structure of RyR and there is growing evidence that, together, they provide a sophisticated and integrated system for regulating RyR channel gating. This review focuses on those proteins that are relevant to phosphorylation of RyR channels with particular reference to the cardiac isoform of RyR (RyR2). How phosphorylation of RyR affects channel activity and whether proteins such as the FK-506 binding proteins (FKBP12 and FKBP12.6) are involved, have been highly controversial subjects for more than a decade. But that is expected given the large number of participating proteins, the relevance of phosphorylation in heart failure and inherited arrhythmic diseases, and the frustrations of predicting relationships between structure and function before the advent of a high resolution structure of RyR.

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