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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2002 Jul 23;99(15):9870-5. Epub 2002 Jul 11.

Calpain-dependent cleavage of cain/cabin1 activates calcineurin to mediate calcium-triggered cell death.

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  • 1Department of Life Science, Kwangju Institute of Science and Technology, 1 Oryong-dong, Puk-gu, Kwangju 500-712, Korea.


Cain/cabin1 is an endogenous inhibitor of calcineurin (Cn), a calcium-dependent serine/threonine phosphatase involved in various cellular functions including apoptosis. We show here that during apoptosis cain/cabin1 is cleaved by calpain at the carboxyl terminus to generate a cleavage product with a molecular mass of 32 kDa as a necessary step leading to Cn-mediated cell death. Mouse cain/cabin1 was identified from a thymus cDNA library by an in vitro substrate-screening assay with calpain. Exposure of Jurkat cells to the calcium ionophore, induced cain/cabin1 cleavage and cell death, accompanied by activation of calpain and Cn. The calpain inhibitors, calpeptin and zLLY, suppressed both -induced cain/cabin1 cleavage and Cn activation, indicating that Cn activation and cain/cabin1 cleavage are calpain-dependent. Expression of cain/cabin1 or a catalytically inactive Cn mutant [CnA beta(2)(1-401/H160N)] and treatment with FK506 reduced -induced cell death. In vitro calpain cleavage and immunoprecipitation assays with deletion mutants of cain/cabin1 showed that cleavage occurred in the Cn-binding domain of cain/cabin1, indicating that the cleavage at its C terminus by calpain prevented cain/cabin1 from binding to Cn. In addition, in vitro binding assays showed that cain/cabin1 bound to the Cn B-binding domain of Cn A. Taken together, these results indicate that calpain cleaves the calcineurin-binding domain of cain/cabin1 to activate Cn and elicit calcium-triggered cell death.

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