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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Modes of caldesmon binding to actin: sites of caldesmon contact and modulation of interactions by phosphorylation.

Smooth muscle caldesmon binds actin and inhibits actomyosin ATPase activity. Phosphorylation of caldesmon by extracellular signal-regulated kinase ( ERK) reverses this inhibitory effect and weakens actin binding. To better understand this function, we have examined the phosphorylation-dependent contact sites of caldesmon on actin by low dose electron microscopy and three-dimensional reconstruction of actin filaments decorated with a C-terminal fragment, hH32K, of human caldesmon containing the principal actin-binding domains. Helical reconstruction of negatively stained filaments demonstrated that hH32K is located on the inner portion of actin subdomain 1, traversing its upper surface toward the C-terminal segment of actin, and forms a bridge to the neighboring actin monomer of the adjacent long pitch helical strand by connecting to its subdomain 3. Such lateral binding was supported by cross-linking experiments using a mutant isoform, which was capable of cross-linking actin subunits. Upon ERK phosphorylation, however, the mutant no longer cross-linked actin to polymers. Three-dimensional reconstruction of ERK-phosphorylated hH32K indeed indicated loss of the interstrand connectivity. These results, together with fluorescence quenching data, are consistent with a phosphorylation-dependent conformational change that moves the C-terminal end segment of caldesmon near the phosphorylation site but not the upstream region around Cys(595), away from F-actin, thus neutralizing its inhibitory effect on actomyosin interactions. The binding pattern of hH32K suggests a mechanism by which unphosphorylated, but not ERK-phosphorylated, caldesmon could stabilize actin filaments and resist F-actin severing or depolymerization in both smooth muscle and nonmuscle cells.[1]


  1. Modes of caldesmon binding to actin: sites of caldesmon contact and modulation of interactions by phosphorylation. Foster, D.B., Huang, R., Hatch, V., Craig, R., Graceffa, P., Lehman, W., Wang, C.L. J. Biol. Chem. (2004) [Pubmed]
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