Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 1999 Sep 29;354(1389):1601-9.

Control of NF-kappa B transcriptional activation by signal induced proteolysis of I kappa B alpha.

Author information

  • 1School of Biomedical Science, University of St Andrews, Fife, UK.


In unstimulated cells the transcription factor NF-kappa B is held in the cytoplasm in an inactive state by I kappa B inhibitor proteins. Ultimately activation of NF-kappa B is achieved by ubiquitination and proteasome-mediated degradation of I kappa B alpha and we have therefore investigated factors which control this proteolysis. Signal-induced degradation of I kappa B alpha exposes the nuclear localization signal of NF-kappa B, thus allowing it to translocate into the nucleus and activate transcription from responsive genes. An autoregulatory loop is established when NF-kappa B induces expression of the I kappa B alpha gene and newly synthesized I kappa B alpha accumulates in the nucleus where it negatively regulates NF-kappa B-dependent transcription. As part of this post-induction repression, the nuclear export signal on I kappa B alpha mediates transport of NF-kappa B-I kappa B alpha complexes from the nucleus to the cytoplasm. As nuclear export of I kappa B alpha is blocked by leptomycin B this drug was used to examine the effect of cellular location on susceptibility of I kappa B alpha to signal-induced degradation. In the presence of leptomycin B, I kappa B alpha is accumulated in the nucleus and in this compartment is resistant to signal-induced degradation. Thus signal-induced degradation of I kappa B alpha is mainly, if not exclusively a cytoplasmic process. An efficient nuclear export of I kappa B alpha is therefore essential for maintaining a low level of I kappa B alpha in the nucleus and allowing NF-kappa B to be transcriptionally active upon cell stimulation. We have detected a modified form of I kappa B alpha, conjugated to the small ubiquitin-like protein SUMO-1, which is resistant to signal-induced degradation. SUMO-1 modified I kappa B alpha remains associated with NF-kappa B and thus overexpression of SUMO-1 inhibits the signal-induced activation of NF-kappa B-dependent transcription. Reconstitution of the conjugation reaction with highly purified proteins demonstrated that in the presence of a novel E1 SUMO-1 activating enzyme, Ubch9 directly conjugated SUMO-1 to I kappa B alpha on residues K21 and K22, which are also used for ubiquitin modification. Thus, while ubiquitination targets proteins for rapid degradation, SUMO-1 modification acts antagonistically to generate proteins resistant to degradation.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk