Calmodulin

Calmodulin (CaM) (an abbreviation for CALcium-MODULated proteIN) is a calcium-binding messenger protein expressed in all eukaryotic cells. CaM is a multifunctional intermediate messenger protein that transduces calcium signals by binding calcium ions and then modifying its interactions with various target proteins.


Function

CaM mediates many crucial processes such as inflammation, metabolism, apoptosis, smooth muscle contraction, intracellular movement, short-term and long-term memory, and the immune response. CaM is expressed in many cell types and can have different subcellular locations, including the cytoplasm, within organelles, or associated with the plasma or organelle membranes. Many of the proteins that CaM binds are unable to bind calcium themselves, and as such use CaM as a calcium sensor and signal transducer. CaM can also make use of the calcium stores in the endoplasmic reticulum, and the sarcoplasmic reticulum. CaM can undergo post-translational modifications, such as phosphorylation, acetylation, methylation and proteolytic cleavage, each of which has potential to modulate its actions.

Mechanism

Up to four calcium ions are bound by calmodulin via its four EF hand motifs. EF hands supply an electronegative environment for ion coordination. After calcium binding, hydrophobic methyl groups from methionine residues become exposed on the protein via conformational change. This presents hydrophobic surfaces, which can in turn bind to Basic Amphiphilic Helices (BAA helices) on the target protein. These helices contain complementary hydrophobic regions. The flexibility of Calmodulin's hinged region allows the molecule to "wrap around" its target. This property allows it to tightly bind to a wide range of different target proteins.

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