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Mol Biotechnol. 2004 May;27(1):33-57.

Calmodulin's flexibility allows for promiscuity in its interactions with target proteins and peptides.

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Structural Biology Research Group, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Calgary, 2500 University Drive NW, Calgary, AB, Canada.


The small bilobal calcium regulatory protein calmodulin (CaM) activates numerous target enzymes in response to transient changes in intracellular calcium concentrations. Binding of calcium to the two helix-loop-helix calcium-binding motifs in each of the globular domains induces conformational changes that expose a methionine-rich hydrophobic patch on the surface of each domain of the protein, which it uses to bind to peptide sequences in its target enzymes. Although these CaM-binding domains typically have little sequence identity, the positions of several bulky hydrophobic residues are often conserved, allowing for classification of CaM-binding domains into recognition motifs, such as the 1-14 and 1-10 motifs. For calcium-independent binding of CaM, a third motif known as the IQ motif is also common. Many CaM-peptide complexes have globular conformations, where CaM's central linker connecting the two domains unwinds, allowing the protein to wrap around a single predominantly alpha-helical target peptide sequence. However, novel structures have recently been reported where the conformation of CaM is highly dissimilar to these globular complexes, in some instances with less than a full compliment of bound calcium ions, as well as novel stoichiometries. Furthermore, many divergent CaM isoforms from yeast and plant species have been discovered with unique calcium-binding and enzymatic activation characteristics compared to the single CaM isoform found in mammals.

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