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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2004 Dec 6;1742(1-3):69-79.

Target selectivity in EF-hand calcium binding proteins.

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Department of Biochemistry, Center for Structural Biology, 5140 BIOSCI/MRBIII, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN 37232-8725, USA.


EF-hand calcium binding proteins have remarkable sequence homology and structural similarity, yet their response to binding of calcium is diverse and they function in a wide range of biological processes. Knowledge of the fine-tuning of EF-hand protein sequences to optimize specific biochemical properties has been significantly advanced over the past 10 years by determination of atomic resolution structures. These data lay the foundation for addressing how functional selectivity is generated from a generic ionic signal. This review presents current ideas about the structural mechanisms that provide the selectivity of different EF-hand proteins for specific cellular targets, using S100 and calmodulin family proteins to demonstrate the critical concepts. Three factors contribute significantly to target selectivity: molecular architecture, response to binding of Ca(2+) ions, and the characteristics of target binding surfaces. Comparisons of calmodulin and S100 proteins provide insights into the role these factors play in facilitating the variety of binding configurations necessary for recognizing a diverse set of targets.

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