The effect of Ca2+ and calmodulin (CaM) on the activation of purified bovine brain Ins(1,4,5)P3 kinase was quantified and interpreted according to the model of sequential equilibria generally used for other calmodulin-stimulated systems. Two main conclusions can be drawn. (i) CaM.Ca3 and CaM.Ca4 together are the biologically active species in vitro, as is the case for the great majority of other calmodulin targets. (ii) These species bind in a non-co-operative way to the enzyme with an affinity constant of 8.23 x 10(9) M-1, i.e. approx 10-fold higher than for most calmodulin-activated target enzymes. The dose-response curve of the activation of Ins(1,4,5)P3 kinase by calmodulin is not significantly impaired by melittin and trifluoperazine, whereas under very similar assay conditions the half-maximal activation of bovine brain cyclic AMP phosphodiesterase requires over 30-50-fold higher concentrations of CaM when 1 microM melittin or 20 microM-trifluoperazine is present in the assay medium. Similarly, 1 microM of the anti-calmodulin peptides seminalplasmin and gramicidin S, as well as 20 microM of N-(6-aminohexyl)-5-chloro-1-naphthalene-sulphonamide (W7), do not inhibit the activation process. These data suggest that binding and activation of Ins(1,4,5)P3 kinase require surface sites of calmodulin which are different from those involved in the binding of most other target enzymes or of model peptides.

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