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Mol Cell. 2010 Oct 8;40(1):75-86. doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2010.09.010.

ATM- and NEMO-dependent ELKS ubiquitination coordinates TAK1-mediated IKK activation in response to genotoxic stress.

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Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, TN 38163, USA.


Activation of the transcription factor NF-κB by multiple genotoxic stimuli modulates cancer cell survival. This response is mediated by a conserved pathway involving the nuclear ATM kinase and cytoplasmic IκB kinase (IKK); however, the molecular link between them remains incompletely understood. Here we show that ATM activates the IKK kinase TAK1 in a manner dependent on IKKγ/NEMO and ELKS (a protein rich in glutamate, leucine, lysine, and serine). K63-linked polyubiquitination of ELKS, dependent on the ubiquitin ligase XIAP and the conjugating enzyme UBC13, allows ELKS association with TAK1 via its ubiquitin-binding subunits TAB2/3. Although NEMO mutants defective in ubiquitin binding permit ATM-dependent TAK1 activation, they block NEMO association with ELKS and IKK activation. Thus, ATM- and NEMO-dependent ubiquitination of ELKS leads to the ubiquitin-dependent assembly of TAK1/TAB2/3 and NEMO/IKK complexes, resulting in IKK and NF-κB activation following genotoxic stimuli.

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