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Mol Syst Biol. 2007;3:111. Epub 2007 May 8.

A homeostatic model of IkappaB metabolism to control constitutive NF-kappaB activity.

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Signaling Systems Laboratory, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, UCSD, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.


Cellular signal transduction pathways are usually studied following administration of an external stimulus. However, disease-associated aberrant activity of the pathway is often due to misregulation of the equilibrium state. The transcription factor NF-kappaB is typically described as being held inactive in the cytoplasm by binding its inhibitor, IkappaB, until an external stimulus triggers IkappaB degradation through an IkappaB kinase-dependent degradation pathway. Combining genetic, biochemical, and computational tools, we investigate steady-state regulation of the NF-kappaB signaling module and its impact on stimulus responsiveness. We present newly measured in vivo degradation rate constants for NF-kappaB-bound and -unbound IkappaB proteins that are critical for accurate computational predictions of steady-state IkappaB protein levels and basal NF-kappaB activity. Simulations reveal a homeostatic NF-kappaB signaling module in which differential degradation rates of free and bound pools of IkappaB represent a novel cross-regulation mechanism that imparts functional robustness to the signaling module.

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