Calpain, a Ca2+-dependent cysteine protease, in vitro converts calcineurin (CaN) to constitutively active forms of 45 kDa and 48 kDa by cleaving the autoinhibitory domain of the 60 kDa subunit. In a mouse middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO) model, calpain converted the CaN A subunit to the constitutively active form with 48 kDa in vivo. We also confirmed increased Ca2+/CaM-independent CaN activity in brain extracts. The generation of constitutively active and Ca2+/CaM-independent activity of CaN peaked 2 h after reperfusion in brain extracts. Increased constitutively active CaN activity was associated with dephosphorylation of dopamine-regulated phosphoprotein-32 in the brain. Generation of constitutively active CaN was accompanied by translocation of nuclear factor of activated T-cells (NFAT) into nuclei of hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons. In addition, a novel calmodulin antagonist, DY-9760e, blocked the generation of constitutively active CaN by calpain, thereby inhibiting NFAT nuclear translocation. Together with previous studies indicating that NFAT plays a critical role in apoptosis, we propose that calpain-induced CaN activation in part mediates delayed neuronal death in brain ischemia.
- Brain ischemia
- Neuronal death
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience