The nuclear factor of activated T cells (NFAT) group of transcription factors is retained in the cytoplasm of quiescent cells. NFAT activation is mediated in part by induced nuclear import. This process requires calcium- dependent dephosphorylation of NFAT caused by the phosphatase calcineurin. The c-Jun amino-terminal kinase (JNK) phosphorylates NFAT4 on two sites. Mutational removal of the JNK phosphorylation sites caused constitutive nuclear localization of NFAT4. In contrast, JNK activation in calcineurin- stimulated cells caused nuclear exclusion of NFAT4. These findings show that the nuclear accumulation of NFAT4 promoted by calcineurin is opposed by the JNK signal transduction pathway.
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