Send to

Choose Destination
BMC Syst Biol. 2009 Jul 16;3:71. doi: 10.1186/1752-0509-3-71.

Mechanism of PP2A-mediated IKK beta dephosphorylation: a systems biological approach.

Author information

Institute for System Dynamics, Universität Stuttgart, Pfaffenwaldring 9, 70569 Stuttgart, Germany.



Biological effects of nuclear factor-kappaB (NF kappaB) can differ tremendously depending on the cellular context. For example, NF kappaB induced by interleukin-1 (IL-1) is converted from an inhibitor of death receptor induced apoptosis into a promoter of ultraviolet-B radiation (UVB)-induced apoptosis. This conversion requires prolonged NF kappaB activation and is facilitated by IL-1 + UVB-induced abrogation of the negative feedback loop for NF kappaB, involving a lack of inhibitor of kappaB (I kappaB alpha) protein reappearance. Permanent activation of the upstream kinase IKK beta results from UVB-induced inhibition of the catalytic subunit of Ser-Thr phosphatase PP2A (PP2Ac), leading to immediate phosphorylation and degradation of newly synthesized I kappaB alpha.


To investigate the mechanism underlying the general PP2A-mediated tuning of IKK beta phosphorylation upon IL-1 stimulation, we have developed a strictly reduced mathematical model based on ordinary differential equations which includes the essential processes concerning the IL-1 receptor, IKK beta and PP2A. Combining experimental and modelling approaches we demonstrate that constitutively active, but not post-stimulation activated PP2A, tunes out IKK beta phosphorylation thus allowing for I kappaB alpha resynthesis in response to IL-1. Identifiability analysis and determination of confidence intervals reveal that the model allows reliable predictions regarding the dynamics of PP2A deactivation and IKK beta phosphorylation. Additionally, scenario analysis is used to scrutinize several hypotheses regarding the mode of UVB-induced PP2Ac inhibition. The model suggests that down regulation of PP2Ac activity, which results in prevention of I kappaB alpha reappearance, is not a direct UVB action but requires instrumentality.


The model developed here can be used as a reliable building block of larger NF kappa B models and offers comprehensive simplification potential for future modeling of NF kappa B signaling. It gives more insight into the newly discovered mechanisms for IKK deactivation and allows for substantiated predictions and investigation of different hypotheses. The evidence of constitutive activity of PP2Ac at the IKK complex provides new insights into the feedback regulation of NF kappa B, which is crucial for the development of new anti-cancer strategies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for BioMed Central Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center