Peptide-induced conformational changes in five isofunctional mutants of calmodulin (CaM), each bearing a single tryptophan residue either at the seventh position of each of the four calcium-binding loops (i.e., amino acids 26, 62, 99, and 135) or in the central helix (amino acid 81) were studied by using fluorescence spectroscopy. The peptides RS20F and RS20CK correspond to CaM-binding amino acid sequence segments of either nonmuscle myosin light chain kinase (nmMLCK) or calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMPK-II), respectively. Both steady-state and time-resolved fluorescence data were collected from the various peptide-CaM complexes. Steady-state fluorescence intensity measurements indicated that, in the presence of an excess of calcium, both peptides bind to the calmodulin mutants with a 1:1 stoichiometry. The tryptophans located in loops I and IV exhibited red-shifted emission maxima (356 nm), high quantum yields (0.3), and long average lifetimes (6 ns). They responded in a similar manner to peptide binding, by only slight changes in their fluorescence features. In contrast, the fluorescence intensity of the tryptophans in loops II and III decreased markedly, and their fluorescence spectrum was blue-shifted upon peptide binding. Analysis of the tryptophan fluorescence decay of the last mentioned calmodulins supports a model in which the equilibrium between two (Trp-99) or three (Trp-62) states of these tryptophan residues, each characterized by a different lifetime, was altered toward the blue-shifted short lifetime component upon peptide binding. Taken together, these data provide new evidence that both lobes of calmodulin are involved in peptide binding. Both peptides induced similar changes in the fluorescence properties of the tryptophan residues located in the calcium-binding loops, with the exception of calmodulin with Trp-135. For this last mentioned calmodulin, slight differences were observed. Tryptophan in the central helix responded differently to RS20F and RS20CK binding. RS20F binding induced a red-shift in the emission maximum of Trp-81 while RS20CK induced a blue-shift. The quenching rate of Trp-81 by iodide was slightly reduced upon RS20CK binding, while RS20F induced a 2-fold increase. These results provide evidence that the environment of Trp-81 is different in each case and are, therefore, consistent with the hypothesis that the central helix can play a differential role in the recognition of, or response to, CaM-binding structures.
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