Engineered CaM2 modulates nuclear calcium oscillation and enhances legume root nodule symbiosis

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The key physiological event essential to the establishment of nitrogen-fixing bacteria and phosphate-delivering arbuscular mycorrhizal symbioses is the induction of nuclear calcium oscillations that are required for endosymbioses. These regular fluctuations in nucleoplasmic calcium concentrations are generated by ion channels and a pump located at the nuclear envelope, including the CYCLIC NUCLEOTIDE GATED CHANNEL 15 (CNGC15). However, how the CNGC15s are regulated in planta to sustain a calcium oscillatory mechanism remains unknown. Here, we demonstrate that the CNGC15s are regulated by the calcium-bound form of the calmodulin 2 (holo-CaM2), which, upon release of calcium, provides negative feedback to close the CNGC15s. Combining structural and evolutionary analyses of CaM residues with bioinformatic analysis, we engineered a holo-CaM2 with an increased affinity for CNGC15s. In planta, the expression of the engineered holo-CaM2 accelerates the calcium oscillation frequency, early endosymbioses signaling and is sufficient to sustain over time an enhanced root nodule symbiosis but not an increased arbuscular mycorrhization. Together, these results reveal that holo-CaM2 is a component of endosymbiosis signaling required to modulate CNGC15s activity and the downstream root nodule symbiosis pathway.