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Circ Res. 2012 Jan 20;110(2):200-10. doi: 10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.111.240895. Epub 2011 Nov 23.

Selective modulation of nuclear factor of activated T-cell function in restenosis by a potent bipartite peptide inhibitor.

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Department of Pathology, University Hospital Maastricht, Debeijelaan 25, 6229 HX Maastricht, the Netherlands.



Nuclear factor of activated T-cells (NFAT) is importantly implicated in pathological cardiac remodeling and vascular lesion formation. NFAT functionality is mainly regulated by calcineurin, a Ca(2+)-dependent multi-effector phosphatase. Calcineurin inhibitors such as cyclosporine A (CsA) were shown to be effective in the treatment of restenosis and vascular inflammation but with adverse side effects.


This prompted the design of more selective inhibitors such as VIVIT and inhibitors of NFAT-calcineurin association, which unfortunately have a poor potency precluding clinical use.


Here, we describe the rational design of a potent bipartite inhibitor of NFAT-calcineurin interaction, MCV1, which targets two separate calcineurin docking motifs. Modeling, site-directed mutagenesis, and functional studies demonstrated that MCV1 acts by allosteric modulation of calcineurin. Comparable to CsA, MCV1 prevents NFAT activation at nanomolar potency without impairing calcineurin phosphatase activity, nuclear factor-κB nuclear import, and general cell signaling. In contrast, CsA but not MCV1-activated basal level extracellular signal-regulated kinases activity and prevented nuclear import of calcineurin, independent of NFAT activation. In vivo MCV1 abrogated NFAT-mediated T-cell activation in a model of PMA-elicited peritonitis, whereas topical application of MCV1 markedly reduced neointima formation in a mouse model of restenosis.


We designed a bipartite NFAT inhibitor that is more potent than VIVIT and more selective than CsA. MCV1 constitutes not only a powerful tool to unravel NFAT function but also a potential drug candidate for the treatment of diseases implicating NFAT activation.

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