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Calcineurin-GATA-6 pathway is involved in smooth muscle-specific transcription.

Wada H., Hasegawa K., Morimoto T., Kakita T., Yanazume T., Abe M., Sasayama S.

Intracellular calcium is one of the important signals that initiates the myogenic program. The calcium-activated phosphatase calcineurin is necessary for the nuclear import of the nuclear factor of activated T cell (NFAT) family members, which interact with zinc finger GATA transcription factors. Whereas GATA-6 plays a role in the maintenance of the differentiated phenotype in vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs), it is unknown whether the calcineurin pathway is associated with GATA-6 and plays a role in the differentiation of VSMCs. The smooth muscle-myosin heavy chain (Sm-MHC) gene is a downstream target of GATA-6, and provides a highly specific marker for differentiated VSMCs. Using immunoprecipitation Western blotting, we showed that NFATc1 interacted with GATA-6. Consistent with this, NFATc1 further potentiated GATA-6-activated Sm-MHC transcription. Induction of VSMCs to the quiescent phenotype caused nuclear translocation of NFATc1. In differentiated VSMCs, blockage of calcineurin down-regulated the amount of GATA-6-DNA binding as well as the expression of Sm-MHC and its transcriptional activity. These findings demonstrate that the calcineurin pathway is associated with GATA-6 and is required for the maintenance of the differentiated phenotype in VSMCs.

J. Cell Biol. 156:983-991(2002) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]

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