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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2002 Aug 20;99(17):11363-8. Epub 2002 Aug 12.

Inhibition of calcineurin-NFAT hypertrophy signaling by cGMP-dependent protein kinase type I in cardiac myocytes.

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Department of Cardiology and Angiology, Hannover Medical School, 30625 Hannover, Germany.


Recent investigation has focused on identifying signaling pathways that inhibit cardiac hypertrophy, a major risk factor for cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. In this context, nitric oxide (NO), signaling via cGMP and cGMP-dependent protein kinase type I (PKG I), has been recognized as a negative regulator of cardiac myocyte (CM) hypertrophy. However, the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood. Here, we show that PKG I inhibits CM hypertrophy by targeting the calcineurin-NFAT signaling pathway. Calcineurin, a Ca2+-dependent phosphatase, promotes hypertrophy in part by activating NFAT transcription factors which induce expression of hypertrophic genes, including brain natriuretic peptide (BNP). Activation of PKG I by NO/cGMP in CM suppressed NFAT transcriptional activity, BNP induction, and cell enlargement in response to alpha(1)-adrenoreceptor stimulation but not in response to adenoviral expression of a Ca2+-independent, constitutively active calcineurin mutant, thus demonstrating NO-cGMP-PKG I inhibition of calcineurin-NFAT signaling upstream of calcineurin. PKG I suppressed single L-type Ca2+-channel open probability, [Ca2+]i transient amplitude, and, most importantly, L-type Ca2+-channel current-induced NFAT activation, indicating that PKG I targets Ca2+-dependent steps upstream of calcineurin. Adenoviral expression of PKG I enhanced NO/cGMP inhibitory effects upstream of calcineurin, confirming that PKG I mediates NO/cGMP inhibition of calcineurin-NFAT signaling. In CM overexpressing PKG I, NO/cGMP also suppressed BNP induction and cell enlargement but not NFAT activation elicited by constitutively active calcineurin, which is consistent with additional, NFAT-independent inhibitory effect(s) of PKG I downstream of calcineurin. Inhibition of calcineurin-NFAT signaling by PKG I provides a framework for understanding how NO inhibits cardiac myocyte hypertrophy.

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