Expression of calmodulin and myosin light chain kinase during larval settlement of the Barnacle Balanus amphitrite

PLoS One. 2012;7(2):e31337. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0031337. Epub 2012 Feb 13.


Barnacles are one of the most common organisms in intertidal areas. Their life cycle includes seven free-swimming larval stages and sessile juvenile and adult stages. The transition from the swimming to the sessile stages, referred to as larval settlement, is crucial for their survivor success and subsequent population distribution. In this study, we focused on the involvement of calmodulin (CaM) and its binding proteins in the larval settlement of the barnacle, Balanus ( = Amphibalanus) amphitrite. The full length of CaM gene was cloned from stage II nauplii of B. amphitrite (referred to as Ba-CaM), encoding 149 amino acid residues that share a high similarity with published CaMs in other organisms. Quantitative real-time PCR showed that Ba-CaM was highly expressed in cyprids, the stage at which swimming larvae are competent to attach and undergo metamorphosis. In situ hybridization revealed that the expressed Ba-CaM gene was localized in compound eyes, posterior ganglion and cement glands, all of which may have essential functions during larval settlement. Larval settlement assays showed that both the CaM inhibitor compound 48/80 and the CaM-dependent myosin light chain kinase (MLCK) inhibitor ML-7 effectively blocked barnacle larval settlement, whereas Ca(2+)/CaM-dependent kinase II (CaMKII) inhibitors did not show any clear effects. The subsequent real-time PCR assay showed a higher expression level of Ba-MLCK gene in larval stages than in adults, suggesting an important role of Ba-MLCK gene in larval development and competency. Overall, the results suggest that CaM and CaM-dependent MLCK function during larval settlement of B. amphitrite.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calmodulin / biosynthesis
  • Calmodulin / genetics*
  • Calmodulin / physiology
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • Larva
  • Life Cycle Stages / genetics*
  • Metamorphosis, Biological*
  • Myosin-Light-Chain Kinase / biosynthesis
  • Myosin-Light-Chain Kinase / physiology*
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Thoracica / genetics
  • Thoracica / physiology*


  • Calmodulin
  • Myosin-Light-Chain Kinase