Theses Doctoral

Understanding two inhibitors of NF-κB: A20 and IκBβ

De, Arnab

While prompt activation of NF-κB is essential for optimal immune response, it is equally important to terminate the response to avoid tissue damage and perhaps even death resulting from organ failure. This thesis describes two inhibitors of NF-κB, A20 and IκBβ. A20 is an essential inhibitor of NF-κB mediated inflammation as mice lacking A20 die from multi-organ inflammation and cachexia. Multiple biochemical approaches have suggested that A20 functions as a deubiquitinase by disassembling K63-linked regulatory ubiquitin chains from upstream adapter molecules like RIP1. To determine the contribution of the deubiquitinase role of A20 in downregulating NF-κB, we generated and characterized a knock-in mouse lacking the deubiquitinase activity of A20. However, we find that these mice display normal NF-κB activation and show no signs of inflammation. Our results suggest that the deubiquitinase activity of A20 is dispensable for downregulating NF-κB. The second part of this thesis unravels a new biological pathway mediated by IκBβ. Unlike IκBα, which functions solely as an inhibitor of NF-κB, IκBβ can both inhibit and activate NF-κB depending on the physiological context. We hypothesized that this may be because IκBβ (unlike IκBα ) exists in two forms, a constitutively phosphorylated form and an unphosphorylated form. Prior work from our group has demonstrated that hypophosphorylated IκBβ complexes with p65:cRel and mediates the expression of certain inflammatory genes like TNFα . We report here that Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3β (GSK-3β ) interacts with and phosphorylates IκBβ at Serine-346. This phosphorylation masks the NLS of p65 in the phospho-IκBβ:p65:cRel complex, thereby sequestering the complex in the cytoplasm and mediating the anti-inflammatory role of IκBβ. We discovered a peptide that can inhibit this phosphorylation by abrogating the interaction between GSK-3β and IκBβ. Mice succumb to a sublethal dose of LPS when injected with this peptide because of increased production of TNFα (but not IL-6); thereby demonstrating the inflammatory role of unphosphorylated IκBβ in upregulating specific genes like TNFα. We propose a signaling model by which phosphorylation by GSK-3β can regulate the functions of IκBβ in response to LPS.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Microbiology, Immunology, and Infection
Thesis Advisors
Ghosh, Sankar
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
March 3, 2014