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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2005 Sep 9;334(4):1061-7.

Superoxide targets calcineurin signaling in vascular endothelium.

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Faculty of Medicine, Institute of Biochemistry I, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University, Theodor-Stern-Kai 7, D-60590 Frankfurt, Germany.


Superoxide emerges as key regulatory molecule in many aspects of vascular physiology and disease, but identification of superoxide targets in the vasculature remains elusive. In this work, we investigated the possibility of inhibition of protein phosphatase calcineurin by superoxide in endothelial cells. We employed a redox cycler 2,3-dimethoxy-1,4-naphthoquinone (DMNQ) to generate superoxide inside the cells. DMNQ caused inhibition of cellular calcineurin phosphatase activity, which was reversible upon DMNQ removal. Inhibition was suppressed by pre-incubating the cells with copper/zinc superoxide dismutase (Cu,ZnSOD). In addition, reducing cellular Cu,ZnSOD activity by diethylthiocarbamic acid treatment resulted in calcineurin inhibition and enhanced sensitivity to DMNQ. Further, we could show that DMNQ inhibits calcineurin-dependent nuclear translocation and transcriptional activation of NFAT transcription factor, and Cu,ZnSOD or superoxide scavenger Tiron reduced the inhibition. Thus, superoxide generation in endothelial cells results in inhibition of calcineurin signaling, which could have important pathophysiological implications in the vasculature.

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