Calmodulin-regulated serine/threonine kinases (CaM kinases) play crucial roles in Ca2+-dependent signaling transduction pathways in eukaryotes. Despite having a similar overall molecular architecture of catalytic and regulatory domains, CaM kinases employ different binding modes for Ca2+/CaM recruitment which is required for their activation. Here we present a residual dipolar coupling (RDC)-based NMR approach to characterizing the molecular recognition of CaM with five different CaM kinases. Our analyses indicate that CaM kinase I and likely IV use the same CaM binding mode as myosin light chain kinase (1-14 motif), distinct from those of CaM kinase II (1-10 motif) and CaM kinase kinase (1-16- motif). This NMR approach provides an efficient experimental guide for homology modeling and structural characterization of CaM - target complexes.
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