Ca V2.2 (N-type) and Ca V1.2 (L-type) calcium channels gate differently in response to membrane depolarization, which is critical to the unique physiological functions mediated by these channels. We wondered if the source for these differences could be identified. As a first step, we examined the effect of domain exchange between N-type and L-type channels on activationdeactivation kinetics, which were significantly different between these channels. Kinetic analysis of chimeric channels revealed N-channellike deactivation for all chimeric channels containing N-channel domain III, while activation appeared to be a more distributed function across domains. This led us to hypothesize that domain III was an important regulator of N-channel closing. This idea was further examined with R-roscovitine, which is a trisubstituted purine that slows N-channel deactivation by exclusively binding to activated N-channels. L-channels lack this response to roscovitine, which allowed us to use N-L chimeras to test the role of domain III in roscovitine modulation of N-channel deactivation. In support of our hypothesis, all chimeric channels containing the N-channel domain III responded to roscovitine with slowed deactivation, while those chimeric channels with L-channel domain III did not. Thus a combination of kinetic and pharmacological evidence supports the hypothesis that domain III is an important regulator of N-channel closing. Our results support specialization of gating functions among calcium channel domains.
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