Many signalling pathways in plants are regulated by the second messenger calcium (Ca2+). In the standard model, Ca2+-sensor proteins, such as CaM (calmodulin), detect Ca2+ signals and subsequently regulate downstream targets to advance the signal transduction cascade. In addition to CaM, plants possess many CMLs (CaM-like proteins) that are predicted to function as Ca2+ sensors, but which remain largely uncharacterized. In the present study, we examined the biochemical properties, subcellular localization and tissue-specific distribution of Arabidopsis CML43. Our data indicate that CML43 displays characteristics typical of Ca2+ sensors, including high-affinity Ca2+ binding, conformational changes upon Ca2+ binding that expose hydrophobic regions and stabilization of structure in the presence of Mg2+ or Ca2+. In vivo localization analysis demonstrates that CML43 resides in cytosolic and nuclear compartments. Transgenic plants expressing a CML43:GUS (β-glucoronidase) promoter reporter gene revealed that CML43 promoter activity is restricted almost exclusively to root tips under normal growth conditions. GUS reporter activity in these transgenic plants was strongly increased when exposed to the defence compound SA (salicylic acid). Furthermore, immunoblot analysis revealed that the CML43 protein accumulates following treatment with SA. Collectively, our findings suggest that CML43 functions as a Ca2+ sensor in root tips during both normal growth and plant immune response.

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