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Neuroimmunophilin Ligands: The Development of Novel Neuroregenerative / Neuroprotective Compounds

[ Vol. 3 , Issue. 12 ]


Bruce G. Gold and J. Ernest Villafranca   Pages 1368 - 1375 ( 8 )


FK506 (tacrolimus), initially developed as an immunosuppressant drug, represents a class of compounds with potential high impact for the treatment of human neurological disorders. While immunosuppression is mediated by the 12-kD FK506-binding-protein (FKBP-12), the neurite elongation activity of FK506 involves FKBP-52 (also known as FKBP-59 or Hsp-56), a component of mature steroid receptor complexes: FKBP-52 binds to Hsp-90, which bind to p23 and the steroid receptor protein to form the complex. The brief review focuses on how three classes of compounds (FK506 derivatives, steroid hormones, and ansamycin anti-cancer drugs, e.g., geldanamycin) increase neurite elongation / nerve regeneration (axonal elongation). A model is presented whereby neurite elongation is elicited by compounds that bind to steroid receptor chaperone proteins (e.g., FKBP-52 and Hsp-90) and thereby disrupt mature steroid receptor complexes (comprising FKBP-52, Hsp-90 and p23 in addition to the steroid receptor binding protein). Disruption of the complex leads to a “gain-of-function” whereby one or more of these steroid receptor chaperone proteins (i.e, FKBP-52, Hsp-90 or p23) activates mitogen-associated protein (MAP) kinase / extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) pathway. Thus, the neurotrophic actions of these distinct classes of compounds can be understood from their ability to bind steroid receptor chaperones, thereby providing a unique receptor-mediated means to activate the ERK pathway. These studies thereby shed new light on the intrinsic mechanism regulating axonal elongation. Furthermore, this mechanism may also underlie calcineurinindependent neuroprotective actions of FK506. We suggest that components of steroid receptor complexes are novel targets for the design of neuroregenerative / neuroprotective drugs.


neuroimmunophilin ligands, novel neuroregenerative, immunosuppressant drug, fk506 derivatives, gain-of-function


CROET/L606, Oregon Health&Science University, 3181 S.W. Sam Jackson Park Road, Portland, OR97201-3098, USA.

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