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J Biol Chem. 1999 Mar 26;274(13):9108-15.

Nuclear retention of IkappaBalpha protects it from signal-induced degradation and inhibits nuclear factor kappaB transcriptional activation.

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  • 1Institute of Biomolecular Sciences, School of Biomedical Sciences, University of St. Andrews, The North Haugh, St. Andrews KY16 9TS, Scotland, United Kingdom.


Transcriptional activation of nuclear factor kappaB (NF-kappaB) is mediated by signal-induced phosphorylation and degradation of its inhibitor, IkappaBalpha. However, NF-kappaB activation induces rapid resynthesis of IkappaBalpha, which is responsible for post-induction repression of transcription. Newly synthesized IkappaBalpha translocates to the nucleus, where it dissociates NF-kappaB from DNA and transports NF-kappaB from the nucleus to the cytoplasm in a nuclear export sequence-dependent process that is sensitive to leptomycin B (LMB). In the present study, LMB was used as a tool to inhibit nuclear export sequence-mediated nuclear protein export and evaluate the consequences for regulation of NF-kappaB-dependent transcriptional activity. Pretreatment of cells with LMB inhibits NF-kappaB-dependent transcriptional activation mediated by interleukin 1beta or tumor necrosis factor alpha. This is a consequence of the inhibition of signal-induced degradation of IkappaBalpha. Although LMB treatment does not affect the signal transduction pathway leading to IkappaBalpha degradation, it blocks IkappaBalpha nuclear export. IkappaBalpha is thus accumulated in the nucleus, and in this compartment it is resistant to signal-induced degradation. These results indicate that the signal-induced degradation of IkappaBalpha is mainly, if not exclusively, a cytoplasmic process. An efficient nuclear export of IkappaBalpha is therefore essential for maintaining a low level of IkappaBalpha in the nucleus and allowing NF-kappaB to be transcriptionally active upon cell stimulation.

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