Voltage-Gated Calcium Channels
Voltage-gated calcium channels are controlled by the membrane potential in excitable cells such as neurons, muscle, and glial cells. At resting membrane potential, the channels are closed. Upon depolarization of the membrane, the channels open thereby allowing an influx of calcium ions into the cell.
Voltage-gated calcium channels are composed of various different subunits:
- α1 subunit – forms the pore
- α2δ subunit – forms two subunits. α2 interacts with the α1 subunit on the extracellular side of the channel. δ anchors the protein in the membrane.
- β1-4 subunits
- γ subunit
There are six types of voltage-gated calcium channels:
L-type calcium channels, also known as dihydropyridine channels (DHP channel), are designated as “L” type due to their long-lasting activation. L-type calcium channels are activated by high-voltage. These channels are composed of α1 (CaV1.1, CaV1.2, CaV1.3 and CaV1.4), α2δ, β, and γ subunits. L-type calcium channels are expressed in muscle, bone, ventricular myocytes in the heart, dendrites of cortical neurons in the brain.
P/Q-type calcium channels are designated as “P” type due to their initial discovery in Purkinje cells in the cerebellum. P-type calcium channels are activated by high-voltage, and can be found at presynaptic terminals. These channels are composed of α1 (CaV2.1), α2δ, and β subunits. P-type calcium channels can be found throughout the nervous system and in the heart.
N-type calcium channels are designated as “N” type due to their predominate localization in neural cells. N-type calcium channels are activated by high-voltage, and are found at presynaptic terminals, similar to P-type calcium channels. These channels are composed of α1 (CaV2.2), α2δ/β1, β3, β4, and possibly γ subunits.
R-type calcium channels are activated by high-voltage and are expressed in the presynaptic terminals of neurons, including cerebellar granule cells, and pyramidal neurons in the hippocampus. These channels are composed of α1 (CaV2.3), α2δ, β, and possibly γ subunits.
T-type calcium channels are designated as “T” type due their transient activation. T-type calcium channels are activated by low-voltage and are expressed in neurons, cardiac cells, muscle cells, osteocytes, and the thalamus. Research suggests that these channels are composed of an α1 (CaV3.1, CaV3.2, CaV3.3) subunit only.
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