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Cell. 1998 May 29;93(5):875-84.

HTLV-I Tax protein binds to MEKK1 to stimulate IkappaB kinase activity and NF-kappaB activation.

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Department of Medicine, Harold Simmons Cancer Center, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas 75235-8594, USA.


NF-kappaB, a key regulator of the cellular inflammatory and immune response, is activated by the HTLV-I transforming and transactivating protein Tax. We show that Tax binds to the amino terminus of the protein kinase MEKK1, a component of an IkappaB kinase complex, and stimulates MEKK1 kinase activity. Tax expression increases the activity of IkappaB kinase beta (IKKbeta) to enhance phosphorylation of serine residues in IkappaB alpha that lead to its degradation. Dominant negative mutants of both IKKbeta and MEKK1 prevent Tax activation of the NF-kappaB pathway. Furthermore, recombinant MEKK1 stimulates IKKbeta phosphorylation of IkappaB alpha. Thus, Tax-mediated increases in NF-kappaB nuclear translocation result from direct interactions of Tax and MEKK1 leading to enhanced IKKbeta phosphorylation of IkappaB alpha.

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