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Genetics Home Reference: your guide to understanding genetic conditions
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CACNA1C

Reviewed January 2008

What is the official name of the CACNA1C gene?

The official name of this gene is “calcium channel, voltage-dependent, L type, alpha 1C subunit.”

CACNA1C is the gene's official symbol. The CACNA1C gene is also known by other names, listed below.

What is the normal function of the CACNA1C gene?

The CACNA1C gene belongs to a family of genes that provide instructions for making calcium channels. These channels, which transport positively charged calcium atoms (calcium ions) into cells, play a key role in a cell's ability to generate and transmit electrical signals. Calcium ions are involved in many different cellular functions, including cell-to-cell communication, the tensing of muscle fibers (muscle contraction), and the regulation of certain genes.

The calcium channel produced from the CACNA1C gene is known as CaV1.2. These channels are found in many types of cells, although they appear to be particularly important for the normal function of heart and brain cells. In the heart, CaV1.2 channels open and close at specific times to control the flow of calcium ions into cardiac muscle cells. By changing the electrical properties of these cells, calcium channels signal the cardiac muscle to contract and help maintain the heart's normal rhythm. The channels' role in the brain and in other tissues is less clear.

Researchers have discovered that many different versions of the CaV1.2 channel can be produced from the CACNA1C gene by a mechanism called alternative splicing. This mechanism produces different versions of the channel by cutting and rearranging the genetic instructions in different ways. Some versions of the CaV1.2 channel are more common than others in certain parts of the body. For example, in the heart and brain, about 80 percent of CaV1.2 channels are made with a particular segment known as exon 8. The other 20 percent of CaV1.2 channels contain a slightly different version of this segment, known as exon 8A. This difference becomes important when researchers are studying the effects of CACNA1C mutations in various tissues.

Does the CACNA1C gene share characteristics with other genes?

The CACNA1C gene belongs to a family of genes called CACN (calcium channels).

A gene family is a group of genes that share important characteristics. Classifying individual genes into families helps researchers describe how genes are related to each other. For more information, see What are gene families? (http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/handbook/howgeneswork/genefamilies) in the Handbook.

How are changes in the CACNA1C gene related to health conditions?

Timothy syndrome - caused by mutations in the CACNA1C gene

Mutations in the CACNA1C gene are responsible for all reported cases of Timothy syndrome. One mutation has been found in everyone diagnosed with classic, or type 1, Timothy syndrome. This mutation changes one protein building block (amino acid) used to build the channel. Specifically, the mutation replaces the amino acid glycine with the amino acid arginine at position 406 (written as Gly406Arg or G406R).

The mutation that causes classic Timothy syndrome occurs in exon 8A, and is present only in the version of the CaV1.2 channel made with this segment. Therefore, in the brain and heart, the mutation affects about 20 percent of all CaV1.2 channels.

Two mutations in the CACNA1C gene cause a more severe, atypical form of Timothy syndrome called type 2. These mutations occur in the version of the CaV1.2 channel made with exon 8. One of these genetic changes, G406R, is the same mutation that causes classic Timothy syndrome when it occurs in exon 8A. The other mutation replaces the amino acid glycine with the amino acid serine at position 402 (written as Gly402Ser or G402S).

Because the mutations responsible for atypical Timothy syndrome occur in exon 8, they are present only in versions of the CaV1.2 gene that contain this segment. In the brain and heart, this version accounts for about 80 percent of all CaV1.2 channels. Researchers believe that the more severe features of atypical Timothy syndrome result from the higher percentage of mutated channels in heart and brain cells.

Mutations in the CACNA1C gene change the structure of CaV1.2 channels throughout the body. The altered channels stay open much longer than usual, which allows calcium ions to continue flowing into cells abnormally. The resulting overload of calcium ions within cardiac muscle cells changes the way the heart beats and can cause arrhythmia. Researchers are working to determine how an increase in calcium ion transport in other tissues, including cells in the brain, underlies the other features of Timothy syndrome.

Where is the CACNA1C gene located?

Cytogenetic Location: 12p13.3

Molecular Location on chromosome 12: base pairs 1,970,785 to 2,697,948

The CACNA1C gene is located on the short (p) arm of chromosome 12 at position 13.3.

The CACNA1C gene is located on the short (p) arm of chromosome 12 at position 13.3.

More precisely, the CACNA1C gene is located from base pair 1,970,785 to base pair 2,697,948 on chromosome 12.

See How do geneticists indicate the location of a gene? (http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/handbook/howgeneswork/genelocation) in the Handbook.

Where can I find additional information about CACNA1C?

You and your healthcare professional may find the following resources about CACNA1C helpful.

You may also be interested in these resources, which are designed for genetics professionals and researchers.

What other names do people use for the CACNA1C gene or gene products?

  • CAC1C_HUMAN
  • CACH2
  • CACN2
  • CACNL1A1
  • calcium channel, cardic dihydropyridine-sensitive, alpha-1 subunit
  • calcium channel, L type, alpha 1 polypeptide, isoform 1, cardic muscle
  • CaV1.2
  • CCHL1A1
  • DHPR, alpha-1 subunit
  • MGC120730
  • voltage-dependent L-type calcium channel alpha 1C subunit
  • voltage-gated calcium channel alpha subunit Cav1.2

See How are genetic conditions and genes named? (http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/handbook/mutationsanddisorders/naming) in the Handbook.

What glossary definitions help with understanding CACNA1C?

alternative splicing ; amino acid ; arginine ; arrhythmia ; atypical ; calcium ; cardiac ; cell ; channel ; contraction ; exon ; gene ; glycine ; ions ; ion transport ; muscle cells ; mutation ; protein ; serine ; splicing ; subunit ; syndrome ; voltage

You may find definitions for these and many other terms in the Genetics Home Reference Glossary (http://www.ghr.nlm.nih.gov/glossary).

References

  • Gene Review: Timothy Syndrome (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK1403/)
  • Liao P, Yong TF, Liang MC, Yue DT, Soong TW. Splicing for alternative structures of Cav1.2 Ca2+ channels in cardiac and smooth muscles. Cardiovasc Res. 2005 Nov 1;68(2):197-203. Epub 2005 Jul 27. Review. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16051206?dopt=Abstract)
  • NCBI Gene (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/gene/775)
  • Splawski I, Timothy KW, Decher N, Kumar P, Sachse FB, Beggs AH, Sanguinetti MC, Keating MT. Severe arrhythmia disorder caused by cardiac L-type calcium channel mutations. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005 Jun 7;102(23):8089-96; discussion 8086-8. Epub 2005 Apr 29. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15863612?dopt=Abstract)
  • Splawski I, Timothy KW, Sharpe LM, Decher N, Kumar P, Bloise R, Napolitano C, Schwartz PJ, Joseph RM, Condouris K, Tager-Flusberg H, Priori SG, Sanguinetti MC, Keating MT. Ca(V)1.2 calcium channel dysfunction causes a multisystem disorder including arrhythmia and autism. Cell. 2004 Oct 1;119(1):19-31. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15454078?dopt=Abstract)
  • Yamakage M, Namiki A. Calcium channels--basic aspects of their structure, function and gene encoding; anesthetic action on the channels--a review. Can J Anaesth. 2002 Feb;49(2):151-64. Review. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11823393?dopt=Abstract)

 

The resources on this site should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Users seeking information about a personal genetic disease, syndrome, or condition should consult with a qualified healthcare professional. See How can I find a genetics professional in my area? (http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/handbook/consult/findingprofessional) in the Handbook.

 
Reviewed: January 2008
Published: August 18, 2014