Three amino acid substitutions in domain I of calmodulin prevent the activation of chicken smooth muscle myosin light chain kinase.
TaM-BMI is a genetically engineered chimeric protein consisting of the first 55 amino acids of cardiac troponin C (but with the normally inactive first Ca2+ binding domain reactivated by site- directed mutagenesis) ligated to the last three domains of chicken calmodulin (George, S.E., VanBerkum, M.F., Ono, T., Cook, R., Hanley, R.M., Putkey, J.A., and Means, A. R. (1990) J. Biol. Chem. 265, 9228-9235). This protein binds chicken smooth muscle myosin light chain kinase (smMLCK) but fails to activate the enzyme, thus functioning as a potent competitive inhibitor (Ki = 66 nM). We have created 29 mutants of calmodulin designed to identify the minimal number of alterations which must be introduced in the first domain to convert the protein to a competitive inhibitor of smMLCK. Alterations of three amino acids predicted to lie on the external surface of calmodulin (E14A, T34K, S38M) recapitulated the phenotype of TaM-BMI and exhibited a Ki of 38 nM. Both the triple mutant and TaM-BMI activated phosphodiesterase and bound a synthetic peptide analog of the calmodulin binding region of smMLCK with an affinity similar to that of native calmodulin (Kact and Kd values of approximately 2 and 3 nM respectively). When a synthetic peptide analog of the myosin light chain phosphorylation site was used as substrate rather than the 20-kDa light chains, TaM-BMI and the triple mutant were partial agonists: the Km for peptide substrate was increased 100- and 60-fold, and catalytic activity was 45 and 60%, respectively, relative to calmodulin. These data suggest TaM-BMI and E14A/T34K/S38M may interact with the calmodulin binding domain of smMLCK in a manner similar to calmodulin. However, alterations in electrostatic and hydrophobic interactions created by the three amino acid substitutions prevent the conformational change in the enzyme usually produced by calmodulin binding. Lack of such changes results in loss of catalytic activity and light chain binding. Additionally, our results show that altering only 3 amino acids residues converts calmodulin to an enzyme-selective antagonist, thus demonstrating the ability to separate calmodulin binding to smMLCK from calmodulin-induced activation of the enzyme.
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