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J Biol Chem. 2005 Jun 10;280(23):22287-96. Epub 2005 Apr 6.

Suppression of calcium release from inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate-sensitive stores mediates the anti-apoptotic function of nuclear factor-kappaB.

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  • 1Laboratory of Neurosciences, National Institute on Aging/NIH, Gerontology Research Center, 5600 Nathan Shock Drive, Baltimore, MD 21224, USA.


The activation of the transcription factor nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB) by growth factors, cytokines, and cellular stress can prevent apoptosis, but the underlying mechanism is unknown. Here we provide evidence for an action of NF-kappaB on calcium signaling that accounts for its anti-apoptotic function. Embryonic fibroblasts lacking the transactivating subunit of NF-kappaB RelA (p65) exhibit enhanced inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate (IP(3)) receptor-mediated calcium release and increased sensitivity to apoptosis, which are restored upon re-expression of RelA. The size of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) calcium pool and the number of IP(3) receptors per cell are decreased in response to stimuli that activate NF-kappaB and are increased when NF-kappaB activity is suppressed. The selective antagonism of IP(3) receptors blocks apoptosis in RelA-deficient cells, whereas activation of NF-kappaB in normal cells leads to decreased levels of the type 1 IP(3) receptor and decreased calcium release. Overexpression of Bcl-2 normalizes ER calcium homeostasis and prevents calcium-mediated apoptosis in RelA-deficient cells. These findings establish an ER calcium channel as a pivotal target for NF-kappaB-mediated cell survival signaling.

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