The neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2) protein, known as merlin or schwannomin, is a tumor suppressor, and the NF2 gene has been found to be mutated in the majority of schwannomas and meningiomas, including both sporadically occurring and familial NF2 cases. Although the development of these tumors depends on the loss of merlin, the presence of tumors lacking detectable NF2 mutations suggests different mechanisms for inactivating merlin. Recent studies have demonstrated cleavage of merlin by calpain, a calcium-dependent neutral cysteine protease, and marked activation of the calpain system resulting in the degradation of merlin in these tumors. Increased turnover of merlin by calpain in some schwannomas and meningiomas exemplifies tumorigenesis linked to the calpain-mediated proteolytic pathway.
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