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J Biol Chem. 2006 Mar 24;281(12):7717-26. Epub 2006 Jan 16.

Protein kinase-mediated regulation of calcineurin through the phosphorylation of modulatory calcineurin-interacting protein 1.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, The University of Texas-Houston Medical School, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.


Calcineurin is a serine/threonine protein phosphatase that plays a critical role in many physiologic processes such as T-cell activation, skeletal myocyte differentiation, and cardiac hypertrophy. We previously showed that active MEKK3 is capable of stimulating calcineurin/nuclear factor of activated T-cells (NFAT) signaling in cardiac myocytes through phosphorylation of modulatory calcineurin-interacting protein 1 (MCIP1). However, the protein kinases that function downstream of MEKK3 to mediate MCIP1 phosphorylation and the mechanism of MCIP1-mediated calcineurin regulation have not been defined. Here, we show that MEK5 and big MAP kinase 1 (BMK1) function downstream of MEKK3 in a signaling cascade that induces calcineurin activity through phosphorylation of MCIP1. Genetic studies showed that BMK1-deficient mouse lung fibroblasts failed to mediate MCIP1 phosphorylation and activate calcineurin/NFAT in response to angiotensin II, a potent NFAT activator. Conversely, restoring BMK1 to the deficient cells restored angiotensin II-mediated calcineurin/NFAT activation. Thus, using BMK1-deficient mouse lung fibroblast cells, we provided the genetic evidence that BMK1 is required for angiotensin II-mediated calcineurin/NFAT activation through MICP1 phosphorylation. Finally, we discovered that phosphorylated MCIP1 dissociates from calcineurin and binds with 14-3-3, thereby relieving its inhibitory effect on calcineurin activity. In summary, our findings reveal a previously unrecognized essential regulatory role of mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling in calcineurin activation through the reversible phosphorylation of a calcineurin-interacting protein, MCIP1.

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