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J Biol Chem. 2001 Sep 21;276(38):36008-13. Epub 2001 Jul 24.

Calmodulin-dependent kinase II mediates T cell receptor/CD3- and phorbol ester-induced activation of IkappaB kinase.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Biology, Umeå University, 901 87 Umeå, Sweden.


Numerous fundamental biological processes involve the NFkappaB family of transcription factors. The mechanisms by which this family of proteins is regulated are therefore of widespread importance. In most cells, NFkappaB is bound to inhibitory IkappaB proteins and sequestered in the cytoplasm. NFkappaB-inducing signals result in activation of a large multisubunit kinase complex, IKK, which phosphorylates IkappaB. IkappaB is subsequently degraded, releasing NFkappaB, which translocates to the nucleus. We previously reported that inhibitors of the calcium-binding protein calmodulin (CaM) prevent phorbol ester-induced phosphorylation of IkappaB. Here we show that KN93, an inhibitor of CaM-dependent kinases (CaMKs), also inhibits the phosphorylation of IkappaB. The effect of both CaM and CaMK inhibitors on IkappaB phosphorylation is due to the inhibition of the activity of CaMK II because neither drug has any effect when a derivative of CaMK II that is insensitive to these inhibitors is expressed. When CaMK II is inhibited, phorbol ester is no longer able to activate IKK, placing CaMK II in the signaling pathway that leads to IKK activation. CaM and CaMK inhibitors also block T cell receptor/CD3-induced activation but have no effect on the ability of the cytokine tumor necrosis factor alpha or the phosphatase inhibitor calyculin A to induce degradation of IkappaB. Finally we show that expression of a constitutively active CaMK II results in the activation of NFkappaB. The results identify CaMK II as a mediator of IKK activation specifically in response to T cell receptor/CD3 and phorbol ester stimulation.

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