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Nature. 1995 Dec 7;378(6557):641-4.

Crystal structures of human calcineurin and the human FKBP12-FK506-calcineurin complex.

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Agouron Pharmaceuticals Inc., San Diego, California 92121-1121, USA.


Calcineurin (CaN) is a calcium- and calmodulin-dependent protein serine/threonine phosphate which is critical for several important cellular processes, including T-cell activation. CaN is the target of the immunosuppressive drugs cyclosporin A and FK506, which inhibit CaN after forming complexes with cytoplasmic binding proteins (cyclophilin and FKBP12, respectively). We report here the crystal structures of full-length human CaN at 2.1 A resolution and of the complex of human CaN with FKBP12-FK506 at 3.5 A resolution. In the native CaN structure, an auto-inhibitory element binds at the Zn/Fe-containing active site. The metal-site geometry and active-site water structure suggest a catalytic mechanism involving nucleophilic attack on the substrate phosphate by a metal-activated water molecule. In the FKBP12-FK506-CaN complex, the auto-inhibitory element is displaced from the active site. The site of binding of FKBP12-FK506 appears to be shared by other non-competitive inhibitors of calcineurin, including a natural anchoring protein.

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