Calcium-binding proteins: intracellular sensors from the calmodulin superfamily

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2002 Jan 18;290(2):615-23. doi: 10.1006/bbrc.2001.6228.


In all eukaryotic cells, and particularly in neurons, Ca(2+) ions are important second messengers in a variety of cellular signaling pathways. In the retina, Ca(2+) modulation plays a crucial function in the development of the visual system's neuronal connectivity and a regulatory role in the conversion of the light signal received by photoreceptors into an electrical signal transmitted to the brain. Therefore, the study of retinal Ca(2+)-binding proteins, which frequently mediate Ca(2+) signaling, has given rise to the important discovery of two subfamilies of these proteins, neuronal Ca(2+)-binding proteins (NCBPs) and calcium-binding proteins (CaBPs), that display similarities to calmodulin (CaM). These and other Ca(2+)-binding proteins are integral components of cellular events controlled by Ca(2+). Some members of these subfamilies also play a vital role in signal transduction outside of the retina. The expansion of the CaM-like protein family reveals diversification among Ca(2+)-binding proteins that evolved on the basis of the classic molecule, CaM. A large number of NCBP and CaBP subfamily members would benefit from their potentially specialized role in Ca(2+)-dependent cellular processes. Pinpointing the role of these proteins will be a challenging task for further research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium Signaling / physiology
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins / classification
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Calmodulin / metabolism
  • EF Hand Motifs / physiology
  • Humans
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Retina / metabolism
  • Second Messenger Systems / physiology*
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Vision, Ocular / physiology


  • Calcium-Binding Proteins
  • Calmodulin