Calcineurin, also known as PP2B or PPP3, is a member of the PPP family of protein phosphatases that also includes PP1 and PP2A. Together these three phosphatases carryout the majority of dephosphorylation events in the heart. Calcineurin is distinct in that it is activated by the binding of calcium/calmodulin (Ca/CaM) and therefore acts as a node for integrating Ca signals with changes in phosphorylation, two fundamental intracellular signaling cascades. In the heart, calcineurin is primarily thought of in the context of pathological cardiac remodeling, acting through the Nuclear Factor of Activated T-cell (NFAT) family of transcription factors. However, calcineurin activity is also essential for normal heart development and homeostasis in the adult heart. Furthermore, it is clear that NFAT-driven changes in transcription are not the only relevant processes initiated by calcineurin in the setting of pathological remodeling. There is a growing appreciation for the diversity of calcineurin substrates that can impact cardiac function as well as the diversity of mechanisms for targeting calcineurin to specific sub-cellular domains in cardiomyocytes and other cardiac cell types. Here, we will review the basics of calcineurin structure, regulation, and function in the context of cardiac biology. Particular attention will be given to: the development of improved tools to identify and validate new calcineurin substrates; recent studies identifying new calcineurin isoforms with unique properties and targeting mechanisms; and the role of calcineurin in cardiac development and regeneration.
Copyright © 2018. Published by Elsevier Inc.