Phosphorylation of S344 in the calmodulin-binding domain negatively affects CCaMK function during bacterial and fungal symbioses

Pratyush Routray, J Benjamin Miller, Liqun Du, Giles Oldroyd, B W Poovaiah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Calcium and Ca(2+)/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase (CCaMK) plays a critical role in the signaling pathway that establishes root nodule symbiosis and arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis. Calcium-dependent autophosphorylation is central to the regulation of CCaMK, and this has been shown to promote calmodulin binding. Here, we report a regulatory mechanism of Medicago truncatula CCaMK (MtCCaMK) through autophosphorylation of S344 in the calmodulin-binding/autoinhibitory domain. The phospho-ablative mutation S344A did not have significant effect on its kinase activities, and supports root nodule symbiosis and arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis, indicating that phosphorylation at this position is not required for establishment of symbioses. The phospho-mimic mutation S344D show drastically reduced calmodulin-stimulated substrate phosphorylation, and this coincides with a compromised interaction with calmodulin and its interacting partner, IPD3. Functional complementation tests revealed that the S344D mutation blocked root nodule symbiosis and reduced the mycorrhizal association. Furthermore, S344D was shown to suppress the spontaneous nodulation associated with a gain-of-function mutant of MtCCaMK (T271A), revealing that phosphorylation at S344 of MtCCaMK is adequate for shutting down its activity, and is epistatic over previously identified T271 autophosphorylation. These results reveal a mechanism that enables CCaMK to 'turn off' its function through autophosphorylation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)287-296
Number of pages10
JournalThe Plant Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013


  • Binding Sites
  • Calcium
  • Calcium-Calmodulin-Dependent Protein Kinases
  • Calmodulin
  • Genetic Complementation Test
  • Medicago truncatula
  • Mutagenesis, Site-Directed
  • Mycorrhizae
  • Phosphorylation
  • Plant Proteins
  • Plant Root Nodulation
  • Rhizobium
  • Signal Transduction
  • Symbiosis

Cite this