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J Immunol. 1993 Mar 15;150(6):2139-47.

Immunosuppressive activity of [MeBm2t]1-, D-diaminobutyryl-8-, and D-diaminopropyl-8-cyclosporin analogues correlates with inhibition of calcineurin phosphatase activity.

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  • 1Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated, Cambridge MA 02139.


Calcineurin, a Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent phosphatase, has recently been identified as a common target for cyclophilin A-cyclosporin A and FK506 binding protein 12-FK506 complexes. This study has examined the structure activity relationships of cyclosporin A (CsA) and three functionally distinct analogues, [MeBm2t]1-CsA, D-diaminobutyryl-8-CsA (Dab8-CsA), and D-diaminopropyl-8-CsA (Dap8-CsA). Immunosuppressive potency in T cell activation models, NF kappa B activation, and IL-2 mRNA transcription has been compared with analogue affinity for cyclophilin A and inhibition of calcineurin phosphatase activity. CsA, Dap8-CsA, and Dab8-CsA bind to cyclophilin A with a similar affinity (Ki 4 to 5 nM as measured by inhibition of prolyl cis-trans isomerase activity), however, Dap8-CsA and Dab8-CsA inhibit T cell activation less than CsA. Although [MeBm2t]-CsA has weak affinity for cyclophilin A (Ki 540 nM), its immunosuppressive potency is similar to that of CsA. Both cyclophilin A-CsA and cyclophilin A-[MeBm2t]1-CsA complexes inhibit calcineurin phosphatase activity in vitro (Ki 114 and 67 nM, respectively). In Jurkat cells exposed to CsA or the analogues for 2 h, endogenous calcineurin phosphatase activity in cell lysates was inhibited by CsA and [MeBm2t]1-CsA (drug concentrations causing 50% reduction in 32PO4 release of 8 and 55 nM, respectively) in proportion to inhibition of T cell activation, IL-2 mRNA transcription, and NF kappa B activation. Dap8-CsA and Dab8-CsA had a minimal effect on endogenous calcineurin phosphatase activity in Jurkat cell lysates. These findings correlate the functional activity of CsA and structural analogues with calcineurin phosphatase activity and support calcineurin as a target for drug action. The Dap8 and Dab8 modifications of CsA, occurring in residue 8, which is exposed to solvent in the cyclophilin A-CsA complex, appears to significantly alter complex affinity for calcineurin.

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