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J Biol Chem. 2003 Jan 17;278(3):1487-93. Epub 2002 Nov 4.

Human T-lymphotropic virus type I tax activates I-kappa B kinase by inhibiting I-kappa B kinase-associated serine/threonine protein phosphatase 2A.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland 20814, USA.


I-kappa B kinase (IKK) is a serine/threonine kinase that phosphorylates I-kappa B alpha and I-kappa B beta and targets them for polyubiquitination and proteasome-mediated degradation. IKK consists of two highly related catalytic subunits, alpha and beta, and a regulatory gamma subunit, which becomes activated after serine phosphorylation of the activation loops of the catalytic domains. The human T-lymphotropic retrovirus type-I trans-activator, Tax, has been shown to interact directly with IKK gamma and activates IKK via a mechanism not fully understood. Here we demonstrate that IKK binds serine/threonine protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A), and via a tripartite protein-protein interaction, Tax, IKK gamma, and PP2A form a stable ternary complex. In vitro, PP2A down-regulates active IKK prepared from Tax-producing MT4 cells. In the presence of Tax, however, the ability of PP2A to inactivate IKK is diminished. Despite their interaction with IKK gamma, PP2A-interaction-defective Tax mutants failed to activate NF-kappa B. Our data support the notion that IKK gamma-associated PP2A is responsible for the rapid deactivation of IKK, and inhibition of PP2A by Tax in the context of IKK x PP2A x Tax ternary complex leads to constitutive IKK and NF-kappa B activation.

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