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Biol Chem. 2006 Jul;387(7):977-83.

Inhibition of calcineurin by infusion of CsA causes hyperphosphorylation of tau and is accompanied by abnormal behavior in mice.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing Key Laboratory, Beijing 100875, China.


Calcineurin is a Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent phosphatase that dephosphorylates numerous substrates in different neuronal compartments. Genetic and pharmacological studies have provided insight into its involvement in the brain. Cyclosporin A (CsA) is used as a specific calcineurin inhibitor in many pharmacological experiments. However, the calcineurin activity of CsA-treated brain has not been reported. To examine the relationship between calcineurin activity and brain function, we injected CsA into the left lateral ventricle of the mouse brain and assayed calcineurin activity. CsA reduced calcineurin activity in a dose-dependent manner, without affecting the amount of calcineurin protein. Assays of the effect of protein phosphatase inhibitors on CsA-injected mouse brain extracts and kinetic analysis revealed that CsA inhibited calcineurin activity in a non-competitive manner in vivo, in agreement with in vitro results. Injection of CsA led to enhanced phosphorylation of tau at Ser-262 (12E8 site), Ser-198, Ser-199, and/or Ser-202 (Tau-1 site) and Ser-396 and/or Ser-404 (PHF-1 site), as well as to impaired spatial memory, which are two characteristic features of Alzheimer's disease. We propose that inhibition of calcineurin may play an important role in Alzheimer's disease.

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