Cooperation between calcineurin (CN)-NFATc and RAF-MEK-ERK signaling pathways is essential in thymocyte positive selection. It is known that the Regulators of Calcineurin (RCAN) proteins can act either facilitating or suppressing CN-dependent signaling events. Here, we show that RCAN genes are expressed in lymphoid tissues, and address the role of RCAN proteins in T cell development. Overexpression of human RCAN3 and RCAN1 can modulate T cell development by increasing positive selection-related surface markers, as well as the Erk(hi) competence state in double positive thymocytes, a characteristic molecular signature of positive selection, without affecting CN activity. We also found that RCAN1/3 interact with RAF kinases and CN in a non-exclusive manner. Our data suggests that the balance of RCAN interactions with CN and/or RAF kinases may influence T cell positive selection.
- RAF kinase
- Thymocyte positive selection