Molecular evolution of calmodulin and calmodulin-like genes in the cephalochordate Branchiostoma

Anton Karabinos, Debashish Bhattacharya

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18 Scopus citations


Calmodulin is a calcium-binding EF-hand protein that is an activator of many enzymes as well as ion pumps and channels. Due to its multiple targets and its central role in the cell, understanding the evolutionary history of calmodulin genes should provide insights into the origin of genetic complexity in eukaryotes. We have previously isolated and characterized a calmodulin gene from the early-diverging chordate Branchiostoma lanceolatum (CaM1). In this paper, we report the existence of a second calmodulin gene (CaM2) as well as two CaM-like genomic fragments (CaML-2, CaML-3) in B. lanceolatum and a CaM2 and three CaM-like genes (CaML-1, CaML-2, CaML-3) in B. floridae. The CaM-like genes were isolated using low-stringency PCR. Surprisingly, the nucleotide sequences of the B. lanceolatum CaM1 and CaM2 cDNAs differ by 19.3%. Moreover, the CaM2 protein differs at two positions from the amino acid sequence of CaM1; the latter is identical to calmodulins in Drosophila melanogaster, the mollusc Aplysia californica, and the tunicate Halocynthia roretzi. The two B. lanceolatum CaM-like genes are more closely related to the CaM2 than to the CaM1 gene. This relationship is supported by the phylogenetic analyses and the identical exon/intron organization of these three genes, a relationship unique among animal CaM sequences. These data demonstrate the existence of a CaM multigene family in the cephalochordate Brahchiostoma, which may have evolved independently from the multigene family in vertebrates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)141-148
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Molecular Evolution
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


  • Branchiostoma
  • Calmodulin
  • Chordate evolution
  • EF-hand
  • Gene duplication


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