Caldesmon and the Regulation of Cytoskeletal Functions

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Abstract

Caldesmon (CaD) is an extraordinary actin-binding protein, because in addition to actin, it also binds myosin, calmodulin and tropomyosin. As a component of the smooth muscle and nonmuscle contractile apparatus CaD inhibits the actomyosin ATPase activity and its inhibitory action is modulated by both Ca2+ and phosphorylation. The multiplicity of binding partners and diverse biochemical properties suggest CaD is a potent and versatile regulatory protein both in contractility and cell motility. However, after decades of investigation in numerous laboratories, hard evidence is still lacking to unequivocally identify its in vivo functions, although indirect evidence is mounting to support an important role in connection with the actin cytoskeleton. This chapter reviews the highlights of the past findings and summarizes the current views on this protein, with emphasis of its interaction with tropomyosin.