Calcineurin, a calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein phosphatase, is involved in movement, fertility, egg laying, and growth in Caenorhabditis elegans

Mol Biol Cell. 2002 Sep;13(9):3281-93. doi: 10.1091/mbc.e02-01-0005.


Calcineurin is a Ca(2+)-calmodulin-dependent serine/threonine protein phosphatase that has been implicated in various signaling pathways. Here we report the identification and characterization of calcineurin genes in Caenorhabditis elegans (cna-1 and cnb-1), which share high homology with Drosophila and mammalian calcineurin genes. C. elegans calcineurin binds calcium and functions as a heterodimeric protein phosphatase establishing its biochemical conservation in the nematode. Calcineurin is expressed in hypodermal seam cells, body-wall muscle, vulva muscle, neuronal cells, and in sperm and the spermatheca. cnb-1 mutants showed pleiotropic defects including lethargic movement and delayed egg-laying. Interestingly, these characteristic defects resembled phenotypes observed in gain-of-function mutants of unc-43/Ca(2+)-calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) and goa-1/G(o)-protein alpha-subunit. Double mutants of cnb-1 and unc-43(gf) displayed an apparent synergistic severity of movement and egg-laying defects, suggesting that calcineurin may have an antagonistic role in CaMKII-regulated phosphorylation signaling pathways in C. elegans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Blotting, Northern
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / metabolism*
  • Calcineurin / genetics*
  • Calcineurin / metabolism*
  • Cell Division
  • Cell Movement
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • DNA, Complementary / metabolism
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Gene Deletion
  • Gene Library
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Luminescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Models, Genetic
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation
  • Phenotype
  • Phosphoric Monoester Hydrolases / metabolism
  • Phosphorylation
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / metabolism
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Signal Transduction
  • Two-Hybrid System Techniques


  • DNA, Complementary
  • Luminescent Proteins
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Calcineurin
  • Phosphoric Monoester Hydrolases