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Oncogene. 2001 Dec 6;20(56):8142-7.

Signal-specific and phosphorylation-dependent RelB degradation: a potential mechanism of NF-kappaB control.

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Department of Molecular Pathology, Institute of Pathology, University of Würzburg, D-97080 Würzburg, Germany.


RelB is an unusual member of the Rel/NF-kappaB family of transcription factors which are involved in oncogenic processes. Due to a relaxed control by the IkappaBs, the cytosolic NF-kappaB inhibitors, RelB is constitutively expressed in the nuclei of lymphoid cells. We show here that RelB is inducibly degraded upon activation of T cells in a fashion similar to the IkappaBs. However, RelB degradation differs from that of IkappaBs since it is not induced by TNFalpha but only by T cell receptor or TPA/ionomycin stimulation. Moreover, RelB degradation occurs in three steps: (i) after stimulation RelB is rapidly phosphorylated at amino acids Thr84 and Ser552 followed by (ii) an N-terminal cut and, finally, (iii) the complete degradation in the proteasomes. Since mutation of the two phosphoacceptor sites to non-acceptor sites abolished RelB phosphorylation in vivo and led to the stabilization of the mutated RelB(DM), site-specific phosphorylation appears to be a necessary prerequisite for RelB degradation. RelB is a crucial regulator of NF-kappaB-dependent gene expression. Thus, the signal-induced degradation of RelB should be an important control mechanism of NF-kappaB activity.

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