• Adapt78;
  • calcium-dependent phosphatase;
  • DSCR1;
  • MCIPs;
  • nervous system;
  • RCANs


RCANs, also called Down Syndrome Critical Region-1 (DSCR1)-like proteins, Modulatory Calcineurin Interacting Proteins (MCIPs) or calcipressins, are regulators of calcineurin, a Ca2+-dependent protein phosphatase involved in several neuronal functions. Despite the potential importance of the RCAN proteins in brain physiology, very little is known about their relative abundance and distribution patterns in the central nervous system. In this study we report the expression and distribution of RCAN mRNA transcripts and proteins in the mouse brain. RT-PCR and Western blot analysis showed that all Rcan mRNAs (Rcan1-1, Rcan1-2, Rcan2-1, Rcan2-3 and Rcan3) and their corresponding protein products (RCAN1-L, RCAN1-S, RCAN2-L, RCAN2-S and RCAN3) are present in every adult mouse brain region examined. All protein isoforms are also expressed in these same brain regions at early postnatal stages. Within regions, RCAN1-L, RCAN1-S, RCAN2-L and RCAN3 are differentially expressed depending on the region and developmental stage, whereas RCAN2-S is distributed homogeneously. Detailed immunohistochemical analysis revealed significant differences in the cellular and subcellular distributions of RCAN proteins. In the adult, RCAN1 was mainly expressed in the neuropil throughout the brain. Although at lower levels, RCAN3 was also detected throughout the neuropil. In contrast, RCAN2 was highly expressed in scattered neurons, in both the nucleus and the cytoplasm. Interestingly, RCAN2 is the only member of the RCAN family that was detected in glial cells. Finally, the expression patterns of RCANs at early postnatal stages differed from those of the adult, in different brain areas, in both their distributions and relative abundance, suggesting that the expression of these proteins could be regulated during neuronal differentiation. The nonoverlapping expression patterns of the RCAN proteins shown here highlight the existence of different physiological scenarios and therefore suggest different RCAN functional activities in the brain, depending on the cellular context and developmental stage.