Research ArticleImmunology

Two Mechanistically and Temporally Distinct NF-κB Activation Pathways in IL-1 Signaling

Sci. Signal.  20 Oct 2009:
Vol. 2, Issue 93, pp. ra66
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2000387

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The cytokine interleukin-1 (IL-1) mediates immune and inflammatory responses by activating the transcription factor nuclear factor κB (NF-κB). Although transforming growth factor–β–activated kinase 1 (TAK1) and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) kinase kinase 3 (MEKK3) are both crucial for IL-1–dependent activation of NF-κB, their potential functional and physical interactions remain unclear. Here, we showed that TAK1-mediated activation of NF-κB required the transient formation of a signaling complex that included tumor necrosis factor receptor–associated factor 6 (TRAF6), MEKK3, and TAK1. Site-specific, lysine 63–linked polyubiquitination of TAK1 at lysine 209, likely catalyzed by TRAF6 and Ubc13, was required for the formation of this complex. After TAK1-mediated activation of NF-κB, TRAF6 subsequently activated NF-κB through MEKK3 independently of TAK1, thereby establishing continuous activation of NF-κB, which was required for the production of sufficient cytokines. Therefore, we propose that the cooperative activation of NF-κB by two mechanistically and temporally distinct MEKK3-dependent pathways that diverge at TRAF6 critically contributes to immune and inflammatory systems.

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