The calmodulin multigene family as a unique case of genetic redundancy: Multiple levels of regulation to provide spatial and temporal control of calmodulin pools?

S. L. Toutenhoofd, E. E. Strehler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations

Abstract

Calmodulin (CaM) is a ubiquitous, highly conserved calcium sensor protein involved in the regulation of a wide variety of cellular events. In vertebrates, an identical CaM protein is encoded by a family of non-allelic genes, raising questions concerning the evolutionary pressure responsible for the maintenance of this apparently redundant family. Here we review the evidence that the control of the spatial and temporal availability of CaM may require multiple regulatory levels to ensure the proper localization, maintenance and size of intracellular CaM pools. Differential transcription of the CaM genes provides one level of regulation to meet tissue-specific, developmental and cell-specific needs for altered CaM levels. Post-transcriptional regulation occurs at the level of mRNA stability, perhaps dependent on alternative polyadenylation and differences in the untranslated sequences of the multiple gene transcripts. Recent evidence indicates that trafficking of specific CaM mRNAs may occur to specialized cellular locales such as the dendrites of neurons. This could allow local CaM synthesis and thereby help generate local pools of CaM. Local CaM activity may be further regulated by post-translational mechanisms such as phosphorylation or storage of CaM in a 'masked' form. The spatial resolution of CaM activity is enhanced by the limited free diffusion of CaM combined with differential affinity for and availability of target proteins. Preserving multiple CaM genes with divergent noncoding sequences may be necessary in complex organisms to ensure that the many CaM-dependent processes occur with the requisite spatial and temporal resolution. Transgenic mouse models and studies on mice carrying single and double gene 'knockouts' promise to shed further light on the role of specificity versus redundancy in the evolutionary maintenance of the vertebrate CaM multigene family. (C) 2000 Harcourt Publishers Ltd.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)83-96
Number of pages14
JournalCell Calcium
Volume28
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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