Event: 980

Key Event Title


Inhibition, Calcineurin Activity

Short name


Inhibition, Calcineurin Activity

Biological Context


Level of Biological Organization

Cell term


Organ term


Key Event Components


Process Object Action
binding FK506-binding protein 15 increased
binding FKBP12 (Arabidopsis thaliana) increased

Key Event Overview

AOPs Including This Key Event


AOP Name Role of event in AOP
Immunosuppression MolecularInitiatingEvent



Taxonomic Applicability


Term Scientific Term Evidence Link
Homo sapiens Homo sapiens High NCBI
Mus musculus Mus musculus High NCBI
Rattus rattus Rattus rattus High NCBI

Life Stages


Life stage Evidence
All life stages High

Sex Applicability


Term Evidence
Unspecific High

Key Event Description


Calcineurin (CN) is a heterodimer that comprises a catalytic subunit (CnA), which handles phosphatase activity as well as calmodulin binding, and a Ca-binding regulatory subunit (CnB), which regulates intracellular calcium as well as CnA (Klee et al. 1988, Zhang et al. 1996). CnA, a 59kDa protein, has a serine-threonine phosphatase domain.

Immunophilins are a general class of proteins that exhibit peptidyl-propyl isomerase (PPIase) activity (Barik. 2006) and an immunophilin-CN inhibitor (CNI) complex such as FKBP12- FK506 and cyclophilin-CsA binds directly to CnA in the cell, causing steric hindrance of substrate binding to CN, which inhibits the phosphatase activity of CN without any contribution of PPIase activity (Schreiber and Crabtree 1992, Liu et al. 1993, Bierer et al. 1993, Bram et al. 1993, Rao et al. 1997, Liu et al. 1991).

How It Is Measured or Detected


Phosphatase activity can be measured using a phosphatase assay. CN, calmodulin, FK506, and FKBP are incubated together, and the phosphatase activity is measured at various concentrations of FKBP. Kinetic analysis of FKBP12 concentration-dependent phosphatase activity and calculation of Ki inhibition of CN by the FKBP12-FK506 complex are conducted. (Bram et al. 1993). Phosphatase activity of CN in the presence of cyclosporin A (CsA) , gossypol or dibefurin  can also be determined in the similar manner (Sieber et al. 2009).

Immunophilin-CNI complexes directly inhibit phosphatase activity of CN, therefore, as a surrogate measurement of the CN activity, the binding of CsA with cyclophilin can be detected using an ELISA kit. Microtiter plates precoated with BSA and conjugated to cyclosporin are incubated with cyclophilin. Bound cyclophilin is then revealed by incubation with anti-cyclophilin rabbit antiserum followed by incubation with anti-rabbit globulin goat IgG coupled to alkaline phosphatase (Quesniaux et al. 1987).

Domain of Applicability


CN is broadly distributed in T-cells, B‑cells, and throughout the body. The structure of CnA and CnB is highly conserved from yeasts to humans. Also highly conserved are the amino acid sequences of the catalytic and regulatory domains of CnA isoforms from different organisms (Kincaid. 1996).

As for immunophilins, of which complexes inhibit the CN activity, FKBP is found in a wide variety of organisms, from prokaryotes to multicellular organisms (Siekierka et al. 1989a). Multiple subfamilies of FKBP have been reported, with at least eight types having been found in mammals. FKBP12 is reported to be expressed in B-cells, Langerhans cells and mast cells as well as in T-cells of humans, mice and other mammalian species.

Cyclophilins have been found in mammals, plants, insects, fungi and bacteria. They are structurally conserved throughout evolution and all living beings have PPIase activity (Wang P et al. 2005).

However, inhibition of CN phosphatase activity through immunophilin-CNI complex has been reported at least in rodents and humans.

Evidence for Perturbation by Stressor

Overview for Molecular Initiating Event


CN inhibitory activities (IC50) are shown in follows.

Tacrorimus:  0.4nM

Cyclosporin:  7nM

Pimecrolimus:  0.4 nM

Dodecylbenzene sulfonate  9.3 uM

Dibefurin:  44  uM

Gossypol:  17 uM

Ascomycin:  0.7 nM

1,5-dibenzoyloxymethyl-norcantharidin:  7 uM

Kaempferol:  51.3 uM



  1. Barik, S. (2006). Immunophilins: for the love of proteins. Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences 63(24): 2889-900.
  2. Bierer, B.E., Holländer, G., Fruman, D. and Burakoff, S.J. (1993). Cyclosporin A and FK506: molecular mechanisms of immunosuppression and probes for transplantation biology. Current opinion in immunology 5 (5): 763-73.
  3. Bram, R.J., Hung, D.T., Martin, P.K., Schreiber, S.L. and Crabtree, G.R. (1993). Identification of the immunophilins capable of mediating inhibition of signal transduction by cyclosporin A and FK506: roles of calcimeurin binding and cellular location. Molecular and cellular biology 13 (8): 4760-9.
  4. Cameron, A.M., Nucifora, F.C. Jr., Fung, E.T., Livingston, D.J., Aldape, R.A., Ross, C.A. and Snyder, S.H. (1997). FKBP12 binds the inositol 1, 4, 5-trisphosphate receptor at leucine-proline (1400-1401) and anchors calcineurin to this FK506-like domain. The Journal of biological chemistry 272 (44): 27582-8.
  5. Hultsch, T., Albers, M. W., Schreiber, S.L. and Hohman, R. J. (1991). Immunophilin ligands demonstrate common features of signal transduction leading to exocytosis or transcription. Proceedings of the national academic science of the United States of America. 14: 6229-6233.
  6. Kang, C. B., Hong, Y., Dhe-Paganon, S. and Yoon, H. S. (2008). FKBP family proteins: immunophilins with versatile biological function. Neurosignals. 16: 318-325.
  7. Kincaid, R..L. (1993). Calmodulin-dependent protein phosphatases from microorganisms to man. A study in structural conservatism and biological diversity. Adv Second Messenger Phosphoprotein Res. 1993;27:1-23.
  8. Klee, C. B., Draetta, G. F. and Hubbard, M. J. (1988). Calcineurin. Advances in enzymology and related areas of molecular biology. 61:149-200.
  9. Liu, J., Farmer, J. D. Jr., Lane, W. S., Friedman, J., Weissman, I., and Schreiber, S. L. (1991). Calcineurin is a common target of cyclophilin-cyclosporin A and FKBP-FK506 complexes. Cell. 66(4): 807-815.
  10. Liu, J. (1993). FK506 and cyclosporin, molecular probes for studying intracellular signal transduction. Immunology today. 14(6): 290-305.
  11. Quesniaux VF, Schreier MH, Wenger RM, Hiestand PC, Harding MW, Van Regenmortel MH(1987). Cyclophilin binds to the region of cyclosporine involved in its immunosuppressive activity.
  12. Panhans-Gross, A., Novak, N., Kraft, S., and Bieber, T. (2001). Human epidermal Langerhans’ cells are targets for the immunosuppressive macrolide tacrolimus (FK506). Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 107(2): 345-52.
  13. Rao, A., Luo, C., and Hogan, PG. (1997). Transcription factors of the NFAT family: regulation and function. Annual Review of Immunology 15: 707-47.
  14. Schreiber, SL., and Crabtree, GR. (1992). The mechanism of action of cyclosporin A and FK506. Immunology Today 13(4): 136-42.
  15. Sieber M., Baumgrass R., (2009). Cell Commun Signal Oct 27;7:2.
  16. Siekierka, JJ., Hung, SH., Poe, M., Lin, CS., and Sigal, NH. (1989a). A cytosolic binding protein for the immunosuppressant FK506 has peptidyl-prolyl isomerase activity but is distinct from cyclophilin. Nature 341(6244): 755-57.
  17. Siekierka, JJ., Wiederrecht, G., Greulich, H., Boulton, D., Hung, SH., Cryan, J., Hodges, PJ., and Sigal, NH. (1990). The cytosolic-binding protein for the immunosuppressant FK-506 is both a ubiquitous an highly conserved peptidyl-prolyl cis-trans isomerase. Journal of Biological Chemistry 265(34): 21011-5.
  18. Zhang, B.W., Zimmer, G., Chen, J., Ladd, D., Li, E., Alt, F.W., Wiederrecht, G., Cryan, J., O'Neill, E.A., Seidman, C.E., Abbas, A.K. and Seidman, J.G.. (1996). T cell responses in calcineurin A alpha-deficient mice. Journal of experimental medicine 183(2): 413-20.