Calcium signals mediate a multitude of plant responses to external stimuli and regulate a wide range of physiological processes. Calcium-binding proteins, like calcineurin B-like (CBL) proteins, represent important relays in plant calcium signaling. These proteins form a complex network with their target kinases being the CBL-interacting protein kinases (CIPKs). Here, we present a comparative genomics analysis of the full complement of CBLs and CIPKs in Arabidopsis and rice ( Oryza sativa ). We confirm the expression and transcript composition of the 10 CBLs and 25 CIPKs encoded in the Arabidopsis genome. Our identification of 10 CBLs and 30 CIPKs from rice indicates a similar complexity of this signaling network in both species. An analysis of the genomic evolution suggests that the extant number of gene family members largely results from segmental duplications. A phylogenetic comparison of protein sequences and intron positions indicates an early diversification of separate branches within both gene families. These branches may represent proteins with different functions. Protein interaction analyses and expression studies of closely related family members suggest that even recently duplicated representatives may fulfill different functions. This work provides a basis for a defined further functional dissection of this important plant-specific signaling system.
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