The flagellum of Trypanosoma brucei contains calmodulin, and a separate family of antigenically related EF-hand calcium-binding proteins which we call calflagins. The following study evaluates the structure and genomic organization of the calflagin family. Genomic Southern blots indicated that multiple copies of calflagin genes occurred in T. brucei, and that all of these copies were contained in a single 23 kb XhoI-XhoI fragment on chromosomes 15 and 16 mRNAs of 1.2 and 1.6 kb were identified in bloodstream and procyclic life-cycle stages. Genomic fragments of 2.5 and 1.7 kb were cloned that encoded calflagin sequences. The calflagin genes were arranged tandemly along the genomic fragments. Three new members of the calflagin family were sequenced from a cDNA clone and the two genomic clones. Two unrelated families of 3′ flanking sequences were downstream from the calflagin genes. An open reading frame that was unrelated to any calflagin sequence was at the 5′ end of the 2.5 kb genomic fragment. The deduced amino acid sequences of the genomic clones (called Tb-24 and Tb-1.7g) were similar to the previously described Tb-17. Each encoded an approximately 24 kDa protein which contained three EF-hand calcium-binding motifs and one degenerate EF-hand motif. The cDNA encoded a protein (called Tb-44A) which was approximately twice as large as the other calflagins. The large size resulted from a nearly direct repeat of 186 amino acids. In general, variability among the T. brucei calflagins was greater than observed for related proteins from Trypanosoma cruzi. We demonstrate that this variability resulted from amino acid substitutions at the N-terminus, C-terminal extensions, and duplication of internal segments.

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