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EMBO Rep. 2005 Apr;6(4):321-6.

A pervasive role of ubiquitin conjugation in activation and termination of IkappaB kinase pathways.

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  • 1Max-Delbrück-Center for Molecular Medicine, Robert-Rössle-Strasse 10, D-13122 Berlin, Germany.


The nuclear factor (NF)-kappaB pathway is a paradigm for gene expression control by ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation. In stimulated cells, phosphorylation by the IkappaB kinase (IKK) complex primes NF-kappaB-inhibiting IkappaB molecules for lysine (Lys)-48-linked polyubiquitination and subsequent destruction by the 26S proteasome. However, recent studies indicate that the ubiquitin (Ub) system controls NF-kappaB pathways at many levels. Ub ligases are activated by different upstream signalling pathways, and they function as central regulators of IKK and c-Jun amino-terminal kinase activation. The assembly of Lys 63 polyUb chains provides docking surfaces for the recruitment of IKK-activating complexes, a reaction that is counteracted by deubiquitinating enzymes. Furthermore, Ub conjugation targets upstream signalling mediators as well as nuclear NF-kappaB for post-inductive degradation to limit the duration of signalling.

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