The nuclear factor of activated T-cells (NFAT) family transcription factors play a key role in the control of cytokine gene expression in T-cells. Although initially identified in T-cells, recent data have unveiled unanticipated roles for NFATs in the development, proliferation, and differentiation of other tissues. Here we report the identification, cDNA cloning, and functional characterization of a new isoform of NFAT1 highly expressed in mouse brain. This isoform, which we named NFAT1-D, is identical to NFAT1 throughout the N-terminal regulatory domain and the portion of the Rel domain which includes the minimal region required for specific binding to DNA and interaction with AP-1. The homology stops sharply upstream of the 3′-boundary of the Rel homology domain and is followed by a short unique C-terminal region. NFAT1-D was expressed at high levels in all brain districts and was found as a constitutively active transcription complex. Transfection of a NFAT/luciferase reporter in the neuronal cell line PC12, which also expresses NFAT1-D, showed that these cells expressed a constitutive NFAT activity that was enhanced after nerve growth factor-induced differentiation but was resistant to the immunosuppressant cyclosporin A. NFAT1-D was, however, inducibly activated in a cyclosporin A-sensitive manner when expressed in T-cells, suggesting that the activity of NFAT proteins might be controlled by their specific cellular context.
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