Nuclear factor of activated T cells (NFAT) was originally described as a T-cell-specific transcription factor athat supported the activation of cytokine gene expression and mediated the immunoregulatory effects of cyclosporin A (CsA). As we observed that activated endothelial cells also expressed NFAT, we tested the antiinflammatory properties of CsA in endothelial cells. Significantly, CsA completely suppressed the induction of NFAT in endothelial cells and inhibited the activity of granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) gene regulatory elements that use NFAT by 60%. CsA similarly mediated a reduction of up to 65% in GM-CSF mRNA and protein expression in activated endothelial cells. CsA also suppressed E-selectin, but not vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1) expression in endothelial cells, even though the E-selectin promoter is activated by NF-kappa B rather than NFAT. Hence, induction of cell surface expression of this leukocyte adhesion molecule by tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha was reduced by 40% in the presence of CsA, and this was reflected by a 29% decrease in neutrophil adhesion. The effects of CsA on endothelial cells were also detected at the chromatin structure level, as DNasel hypersensitive sites within both the GM-CSF enhancer and the E-selectin promoter were suppressed by CsA. This represents the first report of NFAT in endothelial cells and suggests mechanisms by which CsA could function as an antiinflammatory agent.
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