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J Biol Chem. 2011 Jul 1;286(26):22886-93. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M110.199950. Epub 2011 Mar 31.

Autophagosomal IkappaB alpha degradation plays a role in the long term control of tumor necrosis factor-alpha-induced nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB) activity.

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Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, School of Medicine, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland.


Transcription factor NF-κB is persistently activated in many chronic inflammatory diseases and cancers. The short term regulation of NF-κB is well understood, but little is known about the mechanisms of its long term activation. We studied the effect of a single application of TNF-α on NF-κB activity for up to 48 h in intestinal epithelial cells. Results show that NF-κB remained persistently activated up to 48 h after TNF-α and that the long term activation of NF-κB was accompanied by a biphasic degradation of IκBα. The first phase of IκBα degradation was proteasome-dependent, but the second was not. Further investigation showed that TNF-α stimulated formation of autophagosomes in intestinal epithelial cells and that IκBα co-localized with autophagosomal vesicles. Pharmacological or genetic blockade of autophagosome formation or the inhibition of lysosomal proteases decreased TNF-α-induced degradation of IκBα and lowered NF-κB target gene expression. Together, these findings indicate a role of autophagy in the control of long term NF-κB activity. Because abnormalities in autophagy have been linked to ineffective innate immunity, we propose that alterations in NF-κB may mediate this effect.

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