We recently demonstrated that a constitutively active form of calcineurin (CaN) is generated by calpain-mediated limited proteolysis following brain ischemia. The calpain-induced CaN activation mediated delayed neuronal death through translocation of nuclear factor of activated T-cells (NFAT) into nuclei after brain ischemia. We also previously demonstrated that activation of forkhead in rhabdomyosarcoma (FKHR), a forkhead transcription factor and substrate of protein kinase-B (Akt), mediated ischemia-induced neuronal death through Fas-ligand expression in gerbil hippocampus. FKHR activation occurred through decreased Akt activity and concomitant dephosphorylation mediated by undefined phosphatases. In this study, we show that phosphorylated Ser-256 of FKHR is dephosphorylated by constitutively active CaN and that in turn FKHR forms a complex with CaN that is translocated into nuclei after brain ischemia. After nuclear translocation of NFAT and FKHR, both NFAT and FKHR stimulated expression of Fas-ligand by binding to its promoter region. Consistent with activation of the Fas-ligand promoter by FKHR dephosphorylation, Fas-ligand expression increased 2 days after ischemia/reperfusion, and treatment with the CaN inhibitor FK506 inhibited that expression. These results suggest that FKHR is a downstream target of CaN and that constitutively active CaN mediates delayed neuronal death through Fas-ligand expression via up-regulation of both NFAT and FKHR transcriptional activity in brain ischemia.
- Brain ischemia
- Forkhead transcription factor
- Neuronal death