Article abstract

Nature Cell Biology 11, 154 - 161 (2009)
Published online: 11 January 2009 | doi:10.1038/ncb1823

Interaction between TAK1–TAB1–TAB2 and RCAN1–calcineurin defines a signalling nodal control point

Qinghang Liu1, Jennifer Caldwell Busby2 & Jeffery D. Molkentin1

The calcium-activated protein phosphatase calcineurin is controlled by regulator of calcineurin (RCAN) in organisms ranging from yeast to mammals. Here we performed a yeast two-hybrid screen with RCAN1 as bait, identifying TAK1 binding protein 2 (TAB2) as an interacting partner. TAB2 interacted directly with RCAN1 in vitro and in vivo, recruiting TAK1, TAB1 and calcineurin, forming a macromolecular signalling complex. Overexpression of TAK1 and TAB1, or active TAK1DeltaN, promoted direct phosphorylation of RCAN1 in vitro and in vivo. TAK1 phosphorylated RCAN1 at Ser 94 and Ser 136, converting RCAN1 from an inhibitor to a facilitator of calcineurin–NFAT signalling, and enhancing NFATc1 nuclear translocation, NFAT transcriptional activation and the hypertrophic growth of cultured cardiomyocytes. The TAK1–TAB1–TAB2 and the calcineurin–NFAT signalling modules did not interact in Rcan1/2- or Tab2-deficient mouse embryonic fibroblast (MEF) cultures. Calcineurin activation also dephosphorylated and inhibited TAK1 and TAB1, an effect that was absent in Rcan1/2 deficient MEFs. Functionally, TAK1 was indispensable for the cardiomyocyte growth response induced by pro-hypertrophic stimuli through calcineurin. These results describe a signalling relationship between two central regulatory pathways in which TAK1–TAB1–TAB2 selectively induces calcineurin–NFAT signalling through direct phosphorylation of RCAN1, while calcineurin activation diminishes TAK1 signalling by dephosphorylation of TAK1 and TAB1.

  1. Department of Pediatrics, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Cincinnati, Ohio, 45229, USA.
  2. The Scripps Research Institute, Jupiter, Florida, 33458, USA.

Correspondence to: Jeffery D. Molkentin1 e-mail:


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