Selective Modulation of Nuclear Factor of Activated T-Cell Function in Restenosis by a Potent Bipartite Peptide Inhibitor

Haixiang Yu, Ilze Bot, Karen Sliedregt-Bol, Xingfu Xu, Martine Bot, Sandra H. van Heiningen, Gijs A. van der Marel, Martin R. Bennett, Herman Overkleeft, Theo J. C. van Berkel, Erik A. L. Biessen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Rationale: Nuclear factor of activated T-cells (NFAT) is importantly implicated in pathological cardiac remodeling and vascular lesion formation. NFAT functionality is mainly regulated by calcineurin, a Ca2+-dependent multi-effector phosphatase. Calcineurin inhibitors such as cyclosporine A (CsA) were shown to be effective in the treatment of restenosis and vascular inflammation but with adverse side effects. Objective: This prompted the design of more selective inhibitors such as VIVIT and inhibitors of NFAT-calcineurin association, which unfortunately have a poor potency precluding clinical use. Methods and Results: Here, we describe the rational design of a potent bipartite inhibitor of NFAT-calcineurin interaction, MCV1, which targets two separate calcineurin docking motifs. Modeling, site-directed mutagenesis, and functional studies demonstrated that MCV1 acts by allosteric modulation of calcineurin. Comparable to CsA, MCV1 prevents NFAT activation at nanomolar potency without impairing calcineurin phosphatase activity, nuclear factor-kappa B nuclear import, and general cell signaling. In contrast, CsA but not MCV1-activated basal level extracellular signal-regulated kinases activity and prevented nuclear import of calcineurin, independent of NFAT activation. In vivo MCV1 abrogated NFAT-mediated T-cell activation in a model of PMA-elicited peritonitis, whereas topical application of MCV1 markedly reduced neointima formation in a mouse model of restenosis. Conclusions: We designed a bipartite NFAT inhibitor that is more potent than VIVIT and more selective than CsA. MCV1 constitutes not only a powerful tool to unravel NFAT function but also a potential drug candidate for the treatment of diseases implicating NFAT activation. (Circ Res. 2012;110:200-210.)
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)200–210
JournalCirculation Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jan 2012


  • calcineurin
  • cardiovascular disease
  • peptide inhibitor
  • restenosis

Cite this