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Nat Cell Biol. 2001 Apr;3(4):409-16.

Regulation of death receptor expression and TRAIL/Apo2L-induced apoptosis by NF-kappaB.

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Johns Hopkins Oncology Center, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Bunting-Blaustein Cancer Research Building, 1650 Orleans Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21231, USA.


TRAIL (tumour-necrosis factor-related apoptosis ligand or Apo2L) triggers apoptosis through engagement of the death receptors TRAIL-R1 (also known as DR4) and TRAIL-R2 (DR5). Here we show that the c-Rel subunit of the transcription factor NF-kappaB induces expression of TRAIL-R1 and TRAIL-R2; conversely, a transdominant mutant of the inhibitory protein IkappaBalpha or a transactivation-deficient mutant of c-Rel reduces expression of either death receptor. Whereas NF-kappaB promotes death receptor expression, cytokine-mediated activation of the RelA subunit of NF-kappaB also increases expression of the apoptosis inhibitor, Bcl-xL, and protects cells from TRAIL. Inhibition of NF-kappaB by blocking activation of the IkappaB kinase complex reduces Bcl-x L expression and sensitizes tumour cells to TRAIL-induced apoptosis. The ability to induce death receptors or Bcl-xL may explain the dual roles of NF-kappaB as a mediator or inhibitor of cell death during immune and stress responses.

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