Penta-EF hand, calcium binding motifs, found in PEF calpain family
The PEF calpain family belongs to the second group of penta-EF hand (PEF) proteins. It includes classical (also called conventional or typical) calpain (referring to a calcium-dependent papain-like enzymes, EC 22.214.171.124) large catalytic subunits (CAPN1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14) and two calpain small subunits (CAPNS1 and CAPNS2), which are largely confined to animals (metazoans). These PEF-containing are nonlysosomal intracellular calcium-activated intracellular cysteine proteases that play important roles in the degradation or functional modulation in a variety of substrates in response to calcium signalling. The classical mu- and m-calpains are heterodimers consisting of homologous but a distinct (large) L-subunit/chain (CAPN1 or CAPN2) and a common (small) S-subunit/chain (CAPNS1 or CAPNS2). These L-subunits (CAPN1 and CAPN2) and S-subunit CAPNS1 are ubiquitously found in all tissues. Other calpains likely consist of an isolated L-subunit/chain alone. Many of them, such as CAPNS2, CAPN3 (in skeletal muscle, or lens), CAPN8 (in stomach), CAPN9 (in digestive tracts), CAPN11 (in testis), CAPN12 (in follicles), are tissue-specific and have specific functions in distinct organs. The L-subunits of similar structure (called CALPA and B) also have been found in Drosophila melanogaster. The S-subunit seems to have a chaperone-like function for proper folding of the L-subunit. The catalytic L-subunits contain a short N-terminal anchor helix, followed by a calpain cysteine protease (CysPc) domain, a C2-domain-like (C2L) domain, and a C-terminal Ca2+-binding penta-EF-hand (PEF) domain. The S-subunits only have the PEF domain following an N-terminal Gly-rich hydrophobic domain. The calpains undergo a rearrangement of the protein backbone upon Ca2+-binding.