Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 35945584
Link to DOI – 10.1186/s12915-022-01381-5
BMC Biol 2022 08; 20(1): 176
Calmodulin (CaM) is an evolutionarily conserved eukaryotic multifunctional protein that functions as the major sensor of intracellular calcium signaling. Its calcium-modulated function regulates the activity of numerous effector proteins involved in a variety of physiological processes in diverse organs, from proliferation and apoptosis, to memory and immune responses. Due to the pleiotropic roles of CaM in normal and pathological cell functions, CaM antagonists are needed for fundamental studies as well as for potential therapeutic applications. Calmidazolium (CDZ) is a potent small molecule antagonist of CaM and one the most widely used inhibitors of CaM in cell biology. Yet, CDZ, as all other CaM antagonists described thus far, also affects additional cellular targets and its lack of selectivity hinders its application for dissecting calcium/CaM signaling. A better understanding of CaM:CDZ interaction is key to design analogs with improved selectivity. Here, we report a molecular characterization of CaM:CDZ complexes using an integrative structural biology approach combining SEC-SAXS, X-ray crystallography, HDX-MS, and NMR.We provide evidence that binding of a single molecule of CDZ induces an open-to-closed conformational reorientation of the two domains of CaM and results in a strong stabilization of its structural elements associated with a reduction of protein dynamics over a large time range. These CDZ-triggered CaM changes mimic those induced by CaM-binding peptides derived from physiological protein targets, despite their distinct chemical natures. CaM residues in close contact with CDZ and involved in the stabilization of the CaM:CDZ complex have been identified.Our results provide molecular insights into CDZ-induced dynamics and structural changes of CaM leading to its inhibition and open the way to the rational design of more selective CaM antagonists. Calmidazolium is a potent and widely used inhibitor of calmodulin, a major mediator of calcium-signaling in eukaryotic cells. Structural characterization of calmidazolium-binding to calmodulin reveals that it triggers open-to-closed conformational changes similar to those induced by calmodulin-binding peptides derived from enzyme targets. These results provide molecular insights into CDZ-induced dynamics and structural changes of CaM leading to its inhibition and open the way to the rational design of more selective CaM antagonists.