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Braz J Med Biol Res. 2005 Mar;38(3):335-44. Epub 2005 Mar 8.

NFAT transcription factors: from cell cycle to tumor development.

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Divisão de Biologia Celular, Instituto Nacional de Câncer, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brasil.


The nuclear factor of activated T cells (NFAT) family of transcription factors has been primarily identified in immune cells; however, these proteins have been recently found to be functionally active in several other non-immune cell types. NFAT proteins are activated upon different stimuli that lead to increased intracellular calcium levels. Regardless of their widely known cytokine gene expression properties, NFATs have been shown to regulate other genes related to cell cycle progression, cell differentiation and apoptosis, revealing a broader role for these proteins in normal cell physiology. Several reports have addressed the participation of NFATs in many aspects of malignant cell transformation and tumorigenic processes. In this review, we will discuss the involvement of the different NFAT family members in the regulation of cell cycling, differentiation and tumor formation, and also its implications on oncogenesis. Better understanding the mechanisms by which NFATs regulate cell cycle and tumor-related events should be relevant for the development of rational anti-cancer therapies.

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