Evolution of the Calcium-Based Intracellular Signaling System

Genome Biol Evol. 2016 Jul 14;8(7):2118-32. doi: 10.1093/gbe/evw139.


To progress our understanding of molecular evolution from a collection of well-studied genes toward the level of the cell, we must consider whole systems. Here, we reveal the evolution of an important intracellular signaling system. The calcium-signaling toolkit is made up of different multidomain proteins that have undergone duplication, recombination, sequence divergence, and selection. The picture of evolution, considering the repertoire of proteins in the toolkit of both extant organisms and ancestors, is radically different from that of other systems. In eukaryotes, the repertoire increased in both abundance and diversity at a far greater rate than general genomic expansion. We describe how calcium-based intracellular signaling evolution differs not only in rate but in nature, and how this correlates with the disparity of plants and animals.

Keywords: calcium signaling; diversification; evolution; protein architecture; specialization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium Signaling / genetics*
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins / chemistry
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Eukaryota / genetics
  • Evolution, Molecular*


  • Calcium-Binding Proteins