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Researchers Identify Candidate Immunosuppressant With Fewer Side Effects

thway is halted. In the absence of the peptide, NFAT moves into the nucleus and turns on expression of soluble immune factors such as the cytokine interleukin 2. Release of interleukin 2 activates neighboring T cells and escalates the immune response.

The pivotal role of NFAT in T cell activation and immunosuppression makes it an active area of current research. Two groups of Harvard investigators reported the structure of NFAT bound to DNA in the March 5 Nature and the March 6 Cell. Using x-ray crystallography and nuclear magnetic resonance respectively, the scientists were able to see how NFAT attaches to DNA, and how its structure changes during this process. Knowing what NFAT looks like improves researchers' ability to design new drugs to interfere with its activity and suppress the immune system.

Editors, please note: a diagram of the immune system signaling pathway is available.


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Contact: Peta Gillyatt
pgillyat@warren.med.harvard.edu
617-432-0443
Harvard Medical School
24-Apr-1998


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