Frontiers in Bioscience-Landmark (FBL) is published by IMR Press from Volume 26 Issue 5 (2021). Previous articles were published by another publisher on a subscription basis, and they are hosted by IMR Press on imrpress.com as a courtesy and upon agreement with Frontiers in Bioscience.
The sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) of smooth muscle is endowed with two different types of Ca2+ release channels, i.e. inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate receptors (IP3Rs) and ryanodine receptors (RyRs). In general, both release channels mobilize Ca2+ from the same internal store in smooth muscle. While the importance of IP3Rs in agonist-induced contraction is well established, the role of RyRs in excitation-contraction coupling of smooth muscle is not clear. The participation of smooth muscle RyRs in the amplification of Ca2+ transients induced by either opening of Ca2+-permeable channels or IP3-triggered Ca2+ release has been studied. The efficacy of both processes to activate RyRs by calcium-induced calcium release (CICR) is highly variable and not widely present in smooth muscle. Although RyRs in smooth muscle generate Ca2+ sparks that are similar to those observed in striated muscles, the contribution of these local Ca2+ events to depolarization-induced global rise in [Ca2+]i is rather limited. Recent data suggest that RyRs are involved in regulating the luminal [Ca2+] of SR and also in smooth muscle relaxation. This review summarizes studies that were carried out mainly in muscle strips or in freshly isolated myocytes, and that were aimed to determine the physiological role of RyRs in smooth muscle.