Indexed on: 02 Apr '02Published on: 02 Apr '02Published in: Journal of Biological Chemistry
Screening of cDNA expression libraries derived from plants exposed to stress, with 35S-labeled recombinant calmodulin as a probe, revealed a new family of proteins containing a transcription activation domain and two types of DNA-binding domains designated the CG-1 domain and the transcription factor immunoglobulin domain, ankyrin repeats, and a varying number of IQ calmodulin-binding motifs. Based on domain organization and amino acid sequence comparisons, similar proteins, with the same domain organization, were identified in the genomes of other multicellular organisms including human, Drosophila, and Caenorhabditis, whereas none were found in the complete genomes of single cell eukaryotes and prokaryotes. This family of proteins was designated calmodulin-binding transcription activators (CAMTAs). Arabidopsis thaliana contains six CAMTA genes (AtCAMTA1-AtCAMTA6). The transcription activation domain of AtCAMTA1 was mapped by testing a series of protein fusions with the DNA-binding domain of the bacterial LexA transcription factor and two reporter genes fused to LexA recognition sequences in yeast cells. Two human proteins designated HsCAMTA1 and HsCAMTA2 were also shown to activate transcription in yeast using the same reporter system. Subcellular fractionation of Arabidopsis tissues revealed the presence of CAMTAs predominantly in the nucleus. Calmodulin binding assays identified a region of 25 amino acids capable of binding calmodulin with high affinity (K(d) = 1.2 nm) in the presence of calcium. We suggest that CAMTAs comprise a conserved family of transcription factors in a wide range of multicellular eukaryotes, which possibly respond to calcium signaling by direct binding of calmodulin.