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Mol Cell Biol. May 1996; 16(5): 2083–2090.
PMCID: PMC231195

Inactivation of IkappaBbeta by the tax protein of human T-cell leukemia virus type 1: a potential mechanism for constitutive induction of NF-kappaB.

Abstract

In resting T lymphocytes, the transcription factor NF-kappaB is sequestered in the cytoplasm via interactions with members of the I kappa B family of inhibitors, including IkappaBalpha and IkappaBbeta. During normal T-cell activation, IkappaBalpha is rapidly phosphorylated, ubiquitinated, and degraded by the 26S proteasome, thus permitting the release of functional NF-kappaB. In contrast to its transient pattern of nuclear induction during an immune response, NF-kappaB is constitutively activated in cells expressing the Tax transforming protein of human T-cell leukemia virus type I (HTLV-1). Recent studies indicate that HTLV-1 Tax targets IkappaBalpha to the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway. However, it remains unclear how this viral protein induces a persistent rather than transient NF-kappaB response. In this report, we provide evidence that in addition to acting on IkappaBalpha, Tax stimulates the turnover Of IkappaBbeta via a related targeting mechanism. Like IkappaBalpha, Tax-mediated breakdown of IkappaBbeta in transfected T lymphocytes is blocked either by cell-permeable proteasome inhibitors or by mutation Of IkappaBbeta at two serine residues present within its N-terminal region. Despite the dual specificity of HTLV-1 Tax for IkappaBalpha and IkappaBbeta at the protein level, Tax selectively stimulates NF-kappaB-directed transcription of the IkappaBalpha gene. Consequently, IkappaBbeta protein expression is chronically downregulated in HTLV-1-infected T lymphocytes. These findings with IkappaBbeta provide a potential mechanism for the constitutive activation of NF-kappaB in Tax-expressing cells.

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