The heterodimer calmodulin: myosin light-chain kinase as a prototype vertebrate calcium signal transduction complex

Marie Claude Kilhoffer*, Thomas J. Lukas, D. Martin Watterson, Jacques Haiech

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The heterodimer complex of calmodulin (CaM) and the protein kinase catalytic subunit of myosin light chain kinase from vertebrate smooth muscle and non-muscle tissues (sm/nmMLCK) is one of the most extensively characterized CaM-regulated enzyme complexes and it has an established in vivo role in the transduction of calcium signals into biological responses. We have used a combination of approaches to the study of CaM and sm/nmMLCK in order to derive initial insight into the key features of each protein and of the CaM-MLCK heterodimeric complex that are involved in protein-protein and calcium-protein recognition and regulation of enzyme activity. On-going studies are described here that include site-specific mutagenesis, fluorescence spectroscopy, enzymology and peptide analog analysis. These and previous results indicate that: (1), both electrostatic and hydrophobic features are important in the functionally correct interactions between CaM and MLCK; (2), even the interactions between CaM and peptide analogs of the CaM binding site of MLCK are heterogeneous and non-trivial in nature; (3), amino-acid residues that have been conserved in CaM across millions of years of evolution and that are conserved in CaMs with quantitative MLCK activator activity can be mutated without any detectable effect on activity and (4), structures different from the prototypical EF-hand domain of CaM can have similar calcium-binding activity in the presence of a CaM binding structure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8-15
Number of pages8
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA)/Protein Structure and Molecular
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 10 1992


  • Calcium
  • Calmodulin
  • Fluorescence
  • Mutagenesis
  • Myosin light-chain kinase
  • Protein kinase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology
  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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