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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Inhibition of the calcineurin-NFAT interaction by small organic molecules reflects binding at an allosteric site.

Transcriptional signaling from the Ca(2+)-calmodulin-activated phosphatase calcineurin to its substrate NFAT (nuclear factor of activated T cells, also termed NFATc) is critically dependent on a protein-protein docking interaction between calcineurin and the PXIXIT motif in NFAT. Several inhibitors of NFAT-calcineurin association (INCA compounds) prevent binding of NFAT or the peptide ligand PVIVIT to calcineurin. Here we show that the binding site on calcineurin for INCA1, INCA2, and INCA6 is centered on cysteine 266 of calcineurin Aalpha and does not coincide with the core PXIXIT-binding site. Although ample evidence indicates that INCA1 and INCA2 react covalently with cysteine 266, covalent derivatization alone is not sufficient for maximal inhibition of the calcineurin-PVIVIT interaction, because the maleimide INCA12 reacts with the same site and produces only very modest inhibition. Thus, inhibition arises through an allosteric change affecting the PXIXIT docking site, which may be assisted by covalent binding but depends on other specific features of the ligand. The spatial arrangement of the binding sites for PVIVIT and INCA makes it probable that the change in conformation involves the beta11-beta12 loop of calcineurin. The finding that an allosteric site controls NFAT binding opens new alternatives for inhibition of calcineurin-NFAT signaling.[1]


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