Ryanodine receptors (RyRs) form a class of intracellular calcium channels in various forms of excitable animal tissue like muscles and neurons. It is the major cellular mediator of calcium-induced calcium release (CICR) in animal cells.
There are multiple isoforms of ryanodine receptors:
- RyR1 is primarily expressed in skeletal muscle
- RyR2 in myocardium (heart muscle)
- A third form, RyR3, is expressed more widely, but especially in the brain.
- There is also a fourth form found only in fish.
Ryanodine receptors mediate the release of calcium ions from the sarcoplasmic reticulum, an essential step in muscle contraction. In skeletal muscle, it is thought that activation occurs via a physical coupling to the dihydropyridine receptor, whereas, in cardiac muscle, the primary mechanism is calcium-induced calcium release from the sarcoplasmic reticulum.
It has been shown that calcium release from a number of ryanodine receptors in a ryanodine receptor cluster results in a spatiotemporally restricted rise in cytosolic calcium that can be visualised as a calcium spark. Ryanodine receptors are very close to mitochondria and calcium release from RyR has been shown to regulate ATP production in heart and pancreas cells.
Ryanodine receptors are similar to the inositol trisphosphate (IP3) receptor, and stimulated to transport Ca2+ into the cytosol by recognizing Ca2+ on its cytosolic side, thus establishing a positive feedback mechanism; a small amount of Ca2+ in the cytosol near the receptor will cause it to release even more Ca2+ (calcium-induced calcium release/CICR).
The localized and time-limited activity of Ca2+ in the cytosol is also called a Ca2+ wave. The building of the wave is done by
- the feedback mechanism of the ryanodine receptor
- the activation of phospholipase C by GPCR or TRK, which leads to the production of inositol trisphosphate, which in turn activates the InsP3 receptor.
Associated proteins 
Many other proteins with various functions are associated with RyR. For instance in RyR2 from luminal side it is calsequestrin which forms quaternary structure of RyR along with junctin and triadin. Calsequestrin has multiple Ca2+ binding sites and binds Ca2+ ions with very low affinty so they can be easily released.
Ryanodine receptors are usually found in clusters of 3 or 4 (i.e. they are associated with each other)and it was observed that they are to some extent able to open and close simultaneously. This happens more often in physiological conditions and is less observed in vitro.
- Agonist: 4-chloro-m-cresol and suramin are direct agonists, i.e., direct activators.
- Xanthines like caffeine and pentifylline activate it by potentiating sensitivity to native ligand Ca.
- Physiological agonist: Cyclic ADP-ribose can act as a physiological gating agent. It has been suggested that it may act by making FKBP12.6 (12.6 kilodalton FK506 binding protein, as opposed to 12 kDa FKBP12 which binds to RyR1) which normally bind (and blocks) RyR2 channel tetramer in an average stoichiometry of 3.6, to fall off RyR2 (which is the predominant RyR in pancreatic beta cells, cardiomyocytes and smooth muscles).
A variety of other molecules may interact with and regulate Ryanodine receptor. For example: Dimerized Homer physical tether linking inositol trisphosphate receptors (IP3R) and ryanodine receptors on the intracellular calcium stores with cell surface group 1 metabotropic Glutamate Receptors and the alpha 1D adrenergic receptor
The plant alkaloid ryanodine, for which this receptor was named, has become an invaluable investigative tool. It can block the phasic release of calcium, but at low doses may not block the tonic cumulative calcium release. The binding of ryanodine to RyRs is use-dependent, that is the channels have to be in the activated state. At low (<10 MicroMolar, works even at nanomolar) concentrations, ryanodine binding locks the RyRs into a long-lived subconductance (half-open) state and eventually depletes the store, while higher (~100 MicroMolar) concentrations irreversibly inhibit channel-opening.
RyRs are activated by millimolar caffeine concentrations. High (greater than 5 mmol/L) caffeine concentrations cause a pronounced increase (from micromolar to picomolar) in the sensitivity of RyRs to Ca2+ in the presence of caffeine, such that basal Ca2+ concentrations become activatory. At low millimolar caffeine concentrations, the receptor opens in a quantal way, but has complicated behavior in terms of repeated use of caffeine or dependence on cytosolic or luminal calcium concentrations.
Role in disease 
RyR1 mutations are associated with malignant hyperthermia and central core disease. RyR2 mutations play a role in stress-induced polymorphic ventricular tachycardia (a form of cardiac arrhythmia) and ARVD. It has also been shown that levels of type RyR3 are greatly increased in PC12 cells overexpressing mutant human Presenilin 1, and in brain tissue in knockin mice that express mutant Presenilin 1 at normal levels, and thus may play a role in the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer's disease.
See also 
- Ryanoid, a class of insecticide that act through ryanodine receptors
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