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Nat Cell Biol. 2011 Aug 28;13(10):1272-9. doi: 10.1038/ncb2324.

NF-κB controls energy homeostasis and metabolic adaptation by upregulating mitochondrial respiration.

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Section of Inflammation and Signal Transduction, Department of Medicine, Imperial College London, Hammersmith Hospital Campus, Du Cane Road, London W12 0NN, UK.


Cell proliferation is a metabolically demanding process. It requires active reprogramming of cellular bioenergetic pathways towards glucose metabolism to support anabolic growth. NF-κB/Rel transcription factors coordinate many of the signals that drive proliferation during immunity, inflammation and oncogenesis, but whether NF-κB regulates the metabolic reprogramming required for cell division during these processes is unknown. Here, we report that NF-κB organizes energy metabolism networks by controlling the balance between the utilization of glycolysis and mitochondrial respiration. NF-κB inhibition causes cellular reprogramming to aerobic glycolysis under basal conditions and induces necrosis on glucose starvation. The metabolic reorganization that results from NF-κB inhibition overcomes the requirement for tumour suppressor mutation in oncogenic transformation and impairs metabolic adaptation in cancer in vivo. This NF-κB-dependent metabolic pathway involves stimulation of oxidative phosphorylation through upregulation of mitochondrial synthesis of cytochrome c oxidase 2 (SCO2; ref. ). Our findings identify NF-κB as a physiological regulator of mitochondrial respiration and establish a role for NF-κB in metabolic adaptation in normal cells and cancer.

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