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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2000 Oct 20;1498(1):1-18.

The role of NF-AT transcription factors in T cell activation and differentiation.

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Department of Molecular Pathology, Institute of Pathology, University of Würzburg, Josef-Schneider-Str. 2, D-97080 Würzburg, Germany.


The family of genuine NF-AT transcription factors consists of four members (NF-AT1 [or NF-ATp], NF-AT2 [or NF-ATc], NF-AT3 and NF-AT4 [or NF-ATx]) which are characterized by a highly conserved DNA binding domain (is designated as Rel similarity domain) and a calcineurin binding domain. The binding of the Ca(2+)-dependent phosphatase calcineurin to this region controls the nuclear import and exit of NF-ATs. This review deals (1) with the structure of NF-AT proteins, (2) the DNA binding of NF-AT factors and their interaction with AP-1, (3) NF-AT target genes, (4) signalling pathways leading to NF-AT activation: the role of protein kinases and calcineurin, (5) the nuclear entry and exit of NF-AT factors, (6) transcriptional transactivation by NF-AT factors, (7) the structure and expression of the chromosomal NF-AT2 gene, and (8) NF-AT factors in Th cell differentiation. The experimental data presented and discussed in the review show that NF-AT factors are major players in the control of T cell activation and differentiation and, in all likelihood, also of the cell cycle and apoptosis of T lymphocytes.

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