IP3-mediated Ca2+ increases do not involve the ryanodine receptor, but ryanodine receptor antagonists reduce IP3-mediated Ca2+ increases in guinea-pig colonic smooth muscle cells

D. MacMillan, S. Chalmers, T.C. Muir, J.G. McCarron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Citations (Scopus)


Smooth muscle responds to IP3-generating (sarcolemma acting) neurotransmitters and hormones by releasing Ca2+ from the sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) via IP3 receptors (IP3Rs). This release may propagate as Ca2+ waves. The Ca2+ signal emanating from IP3 generation may be amplified by its activating further Ca2+ release from ryanodine receptors (RyRs) in the process of Ca2+-induced Ca2+ release (CICR). Evidence for this proposal has relied largely on the use of blocking drugs such as ryanodine, tetracaine and dantrolene, reportedly specific inhibitors of RyRs. Here we have examined whether or not Ca2+ released via IP3Rs subsequently activates RyRs. In addition, the specificity of the blocking agents has been assessed by determining the extent of their ability to block IP3-mediated Ca2+ release under conditions in which RyRs were not activated. IP3-evoked Ca2+ release and Ca2+ waves did not require or activate RyRs. However, the RyR blocking drugs inhibited IP3-mediated Ca2+ signals at concentrations thought to be selective for RyRs. In single colonic smooth muscle cells, voltage clamped in the whole cell configuration, carbachol (CCh) evoked propagating Ca2+ waves which were not inhibited by ryanodine when the sarcolemma potential was −70 mV. At −20 mV, at which potential the SR Ca2+ content was increased and RyRs activated, ryanodine inhibited the Ca2+ waves. Photolysed caged IP3 increased [Ca2+]c; ryanodine, by itself, did not reduce the IP3-evoked [Ca2+]c increase when the sarcolemma potential was maintained at −70 mV. However, after activation of RyRs by caffeine, in the continued presence of ryanodine, the IP3-evoked [Ca2+]c increase was inhibited. In other experiments, RyRs were activated (as evidenced by the occurrence of spontaneous transient outward currents) by depolarizing the sarcolemma to −20 mV and again ryanodine was effective in inhibiting IP3-evoked Ca2+ increase. Thus while ineffective by itself, ryanodine inhibited IP3-evoked Ca2+ increases, presumably by causing persistent opening of the channel and depleting the SR of Ca2+, after RyRs were activated. These experiments establish that IP3-evoked Ca2+ release and Ca2+ waves do not activate RyRs; had they done so ryanodine would have inhibited the Ca2+ increase. However, under conditions where ryanodine was ineffective against the IP3-evoked Ca2+ transient (i.e. when RyRs were not activated, e.g. at a membrane potential of −70 mV) tetracaine and dantrolene each blocked IP3-evoked Ca2+ increases. The results show that although IP3-mediated Ca2+ release does not activate RyRs, RyR blockers can inhibit IP3-mediated Ca2+ signals.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)533-544
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Physiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • cytosolic Ca2+ concentration
  • IP3-mediated Ca2+


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