Calcineurin: not just a simple protein phosphatase

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 1997 Jun 18;235(2):271-5. doi: 10.1006/bbrc.1997.6802.


Calcineurin is a Ca2+ calmodulin dependent protein phosphatase which has an important role in the control of intracellular Ca2+ signalling. The protein is a heterodimer of one catalytic (CnA) subunit and one regulatory (CnB) subunit. As suggested by the protein sequence and confirmed by the crystallographic structure, the catalytic subunit of calcineurin (CnA) has high homologies with other protein phosphatases. The regulatory subunit (CnB) belongs to the EF-hand Ca2+ binding protein family. Despite its similarity with calmodulin, it has a different tertiary structure. Calcineurin is the target of two important immunosuppressant drugs: cyclosporin A and FK506. Subsequently, a detailed clarification of the role of calcineurin in the cytokine mediated activation of the T-cells has been possible. The understanding of the role of calcineurin in other cells, in particular neurons, is also progressing rapidly.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Calcineurin
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Calmodulin-Binding Proteins / chemistry*
  • Calmodulin-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Calmodulin-Binding Proteins / physiology*
  • Cyclosporine / pharmacology
  • Dimerization
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / pharmacology
  • Models, Molecular
  • Phosphoprotein Phosphatases / chemistry*
  • Phosphoprotein Phosphatases / metabolism
  • Phosphoprotein Phosphatases / physiology*
  • Protein Conformation
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Tacrolimus / pharmacology


  • Calmodulin-Binding Proteins
  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Cyclosporine
  • Calcineurin
  • Phosphoprotein Phosphatases
  • Calcium
  • Tacrolimus