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Mol Neurobiol. 2000 Aug-Dec;22(1-3):99-113.

Small proteins that modulate calmodulin-dependent signal transduction: effects of PEP-19, neuromodulin, and neurogranin on enzyme activation and cellular homeostasis.

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Department of Protein Biochemistry, SmithKline Beecham Pharmaceuticals Research and Development, King of Prussia, PA 19406, USA.


Neuromodulin (GAP-43), neurogranin (RC3), and PEP-19 are small acid-stable proteins that bind calcium-poor calmodulin through a loosely conserved IQ-motif. Even though these proteins have been known for many years, much about their function in cells is not understood. It has recently become appreciated that calmodulin activity in cells is tightly controlled and that pools of otherwise free calmodulin are sequestered so as to restrict its availability for activating calcium/calmodulin-dependent enzymes. Neuromodulin, neurogranin, and PEP-19 appear to be major participants in this type of regulation. One way in which they do this is by providing localized increases in the concentration of calmodulin in cells so that the maximal level of target activation is increased. Additionally, they can function as calmodulin antagonists by directly inhibiting the association of calcium/calmodulin with enzymes and other proteins. Although neuromodulin, neurogranin, and PEP-19 were early representatives of the small IQ-motif-containing protein family, newer examples have come to light that expand the number of cellular systems through which the IQ-peptide/calmodulin interaction could regulate biological processes including gene transcription. It is the purpose of this review to examine the behavior of neuromodulin, neurogranin, and PEP-19 in paradigms that include both in vitro and in situ systems in order to summarize possible biological consequences that are linked to the expression of this type of protein. The use of protein:protein interaction chromatography is also examined in the recovery of a new calmodulin-binding peptide, CAP-19 (ratMBF1). Consistent with earlier predictions, at least one function of small IQ-motif proteins appears to be that they lessen the extent to which calcium-calmodulin-dependent enzymes become or stay activated. It also appears that these polypeptides can function to selectively inhibit activation of intracellular targets by some agonists while simultaneously permitting activation of these same targets by other agonists. Much of the mechanism for how this occurs is unknown, and possible explanations are examined. One of the biological consequences for a cell that expresses a calmodulin-regulatory protein could be an increased resistance to calcium-mediated toxicity. This possibility is examined for cells expressing PEP-19 and both anatomical and cell-biological data is described. The study of IQ-motif-containing small proteins has stimulated considerable thought as to how calcium signaling is refined in neurons. Current evidence suggests that signaling through calmodulin is not a fulminating and homogenous process but a spatially limited and highly regulated one. Data from studies on neuromodulin, neurogranin, and PEP-19 suggest that they play an important role in establishing some of the processes by which this regulation is accomplished.

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