The focus of this study is a quantitative biochemical analysis of the calcium-dependent interactions of calmodulin with a nerve growth cone preparation from fetal rat brain (Pfenninger, K. H., L. Ellis, M. P. Johnson, L. B. Freidman, and S. Somlo, 1983, Cell 35:573-584). The presence of calmodulin as an integral component of this preparation is demonstrated, and quantitative binding studies are presented. The binding of 125I-calmodulin to nerve growth cone material is shown to be highly specific, calcium dependent, and saturable at nanomolar calmodulin concentrations. Additionally, the growth cones' binding components appear to be membrane proteins. The individual molecular mass species of growth cone proteins displaying calcium-dependent calmodulin binding are also detailed and presented in comparison with those of synaptosomes. This analysis reveals differences between the calmodulin binding proteins of the growth cone preparation and the synaptosome fraction, suggesting the presence in growth cones of a specialized set of components which may be involved in regulatory mechanisms controlling neuritic sprouting.

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