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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2001 Aug 3;285(5):1192-9.

Caspase-mediated calcineurin activation contributes to IL-2 release during T cell activation.

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Laboratory of Neuro-biochemistry, Department of CNS Molecular Sciences, Pfizer Global Research and Development, Ann Arbor Laboratories, 2800 Plymouth Road, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48105, USA.


Calcineurin, a Ca(2+)/calmodulin-dependent Ser/Thr phosphatase (protein phosphatase 2B), plays a critical role in IL-2 production during T cell activation. It has been previously reported that IL-2 release in activated Jurkat T requires caspase-like activity (Posmantur et al. (1998) Exp. Cell. Res. 244, 302-309). We report here that the 60-kDa catalytic subunit of calcineurin A (Cn A) was partially cleaved to a 45-kDa form in phytohemagglutinin A (PHA) or phorbol ester + ionomycin (P + I)-activated Jurkat cells. In parallel, proteolytic activation of upstream caspases (caspase-8 and -9) as well as effector caspase-3 was also observed. Cn A cleavage was caspase mediated, since it was inhibitable by pan-caspase inhibitor Cbz-Asp-CH(2)OC(O)-2,6-dichlorobenzene (Z-D-DCB). Cn A cleavage was also observed when purified calcineurin was digested in vitro with caspase-3. Truncated Cn A was associated with enhanced phosphatase activity and reduced calmodulin sensitivity. Furthermore, in PHA or P + I-activated Jurkat cells, dephosphorylation of calcineurin substrate NFATc (a transcription factor known to be involved in transactivation of the IL-2 gene), was also suppressed by Z-D-DCB. Taken together, our results suggest that caspase-mediated cleavage of Cn A contributes to IL-2 production during T cell activation.

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