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Mol Cell Biol. 1989 Nov;9(11):4677-86.

Infection with the intracellular protozoan parasite Theileria parva induces constitutively high levels of NF-kappa B in bovine T lymphocytes.

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Kernforschungszentrum, Institut für Genetik und Toxikologie, Karlsruhe, Federal Republic of Germany.


The intracellular protozoan parasite Theileria parva causes a lymphoproliferative disease of T cells in cattle and uncontrolled lymphocyte proliferation in culture. We have identified and characterized in infected cells the transcriptional activator, NF-kappa B, whose recognition motifs have been identified in several gene enhancers important for lymphocyte-specific gene expression. NF-kappa B is normally constitutively activated in nuclear extracts derived from B cells and can be induced in T cells and nonlymphoid cells by phorbol esters. Theileria-infected lymphocytes contained constitutively high levels of activated NF-kappa B in nuclear fractions and inactive NF-kappa B in cytoplasmic fractions. The inactive cytoplasmic precursor could be activated by treatment of extracts with deoxycholate, which was shown previously to dissociate NF-kappa B from an inhibitor, I kappa B. Treatment of lymphocyte extracts with 3 mM GTP stimulated NF-kappa B binding to its recognition motif in vitro, thereby distinguishing it from a related nuclear factor, H2-TF1. Selective killing of the parasite, which left the host cells intact, resulted in a rapid loss of NF-kappa B from the nuclear fractions and a slower loss from the cytoplasmic fractions. In parasitized cells, NF-kappa B could not be further stimulated by treatment with 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate whereas in cells treated to remove the parasite, this compound stimulated elevated levels of NF-kappa B. We propose that high levels of activated NF-kappa B are maintained by the presence of the parasite in infected T cells. Similarly, we propose that the high levels of inactive cytoplasmic precursor are a result of increased synthesis due to the presence of the parasite.

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