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The eight members of the calcium channel gamma subunit family are integral membrane proteins that regulate the expression and behaviour of voltage and ligand gated ion channels. While a subgroup consisting of gamma(2), gamma(3), gamma(4) and gamma(8) (the TARPs) modulate AMPA receptor localization and function, the gamma(1) and gamma(6) subunits conform to the original description of these proteins as regulators of voltage gated calcium channels. We have previously shown that the gamma(6) subunit is highly expressed in atrial myocytes and that it is capable of acting as a negative modulator of low voltage activated calcium current. In this study we extend our understanding of gamma(6) subunit modulation of low voltage activated calcium current. Using engineered chimeric constructs, we demonstrate that the first transmembrane domain (TM1) of gamma(6) is necessary for its inhibitory effect on Cav3.1 current. Mutational analysis is then used to identify a unique GxxxA motif within TM1 that is required for the function of the subunit strongly suggesting the involvement of helix-helix interactions in its effects. Results from co-immunoprecipitation experiments confirm a physical association of gamma(6) with the Cav3.1 channel in both HEK cells and atrial myocytes. Single channel analysis reveals that binding of gamma(6) reduces channel availability for activation. Taken together, the results of this study provide both a molecular and a mechanistic framework for understanding the unique ability of the gamma(6) calcium channel subunit to modulate low voltage activated (Cav3.1) calcium current density.

Original publication




Journal article


J Physiol

Publication Date





5349 - 5366


Amino Acid Motifs, Animals, Calcium Channels, Calcium Channels, T-Type, Cell Line, Electrophysiology, Humans, In Vitro Techniques, Kinetics, Models, Molecular, Molecular Sequence Data, Multiprotein Complexes, Myocytes, Cardiac, Protein Subunits, Rats, Rats, Sprague-Dawley, Recombinant Fusion Proteins, Sequence Homology, Amino Acid