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FEBS Lett. 2005 Mar 14;579(7):1591-6.

A reassessment of the inhibitory capacity of human FKBP38 on calcineurin.

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Max-Planck Research Unit for Enzymology of Protein Folding, Weinbergweg 22, D-06120 Halle/Saale, Germany.


The microbial peptidomacrolide FK506 affects many eukaryotic developmental and cell signaling programs via calcineurin inhibition. Prior formation of a complex between FK506 and intracellular FK506-binding proteins (FKBPs) is the precondition for the interaction with calcineurin. A puzzling difference has emerged between the mammalian multidomain protein hFKBP38 and other FKBPs. It was shown that hFKBP38 not only binds to calcineurin but also inhibits the protein phosphatase activity of calcineurin on its own [Shirane, M. and Nakayama, K.I. (2003) Nature Cell Biol. 5, 28-37]. Inherent calcineurin inhibition by hFKBP38 would completely eliminate the need for FK506 in controlling many signal transduction pathways. To address this issue, we have characterized the functional and physical interactions between calcineurin and hFKBP38. A recombinant hFKBP38 variant and endogenous hFKBP38 were tested both in vitro and in vivo. The proteins neither directly inhibited calcineurin activity nor affected NFAT reporter gene activity in SH-SY5Y and Jurkat cells. In addition, a direct physical interaction between calcineurin and hFKBP38 was not detected in co-immunoprecipitation experiments. However, hFKBP38 indirectly affected the subcellular distribution of calcineurin by interaction with typical calcineurin ligands, as exemplified by the anti-apoptotic protein Bcl-2. Our data suggest that hFKBP38 cannot substitute for the FKBP/FK506 complex in signaling pathways controlled by the protein phosphatase activity of calcineurin.

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