Protein kinase C-theta participates in NF-kappaB activation induced by CD3-CD28 costimulation through selective activation of IkappaB kinase beta

Mol Cell Biol. 2000 Apr;20(8):2933-40. doi: 10.1128/MCB.20.8.2933-2940.2000.


The NF-kappaB/Rel family of eukaryotic transcription factors plays an essential role in the regulation of inflammatory, antiapoptotic, and immune responses. NF-kappaB is activated by many stimuli including costimulation of T cells with ligands specific for the T-cell receptor (TCR)-CD3 complex and CD28 receptors. However, the signaling intermediates that transduce these costimulatory signals from the TCR-CD3 and CD28 surface receptors leading to nuclear NF-kappaB expression are not well defined. We now show that protein kinase C-theta (PKC-theta), a novel PKC isoform, plays a central role in a signaling pathway induced by CD3-CD28 costimulation leading to activation of NF-kappaB in Jurkat T cells. We find that expression of a constitutively active mutant of PKC-theta potently induces NF-kappaB activation and stimulates the RE/AP composite enhancer from the interleukin-2 gene. Conversely, expression of a kinase-deficient mutant or antisense PKC-theta selectively inhibits CD3-CD28 costimulation, but not tumor necrosis factor alpha-induced activation of NF-kappaB in Jurkat T cells. The induction of NF-kappaB by PKC-theta is mediated through the activation of IkappaB kinase beta (IKKbeta) in the absence of detectable IKKalpha stimulation. PKC-theta acts directly or indirectly to stimulate phosphorylation of IKKbeta, leading to activation of this enzyme. Together, these results implicate PKC-theta in one pathway of CD3-CD28 costimulation leading to NF-kappaB activation that is apparently distinct from that involving Cot and NF-kappaB-inducing kinase (NIK). PKC-theta activation of NF-kappaB is mediated through the selective induction of IKKbeta, while the Cot- and NIK-dependent pathway involves induction of both IKKalpha and IKKbeta.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • CD28 Antigens / metabolism*
  • CD3 Complex / metabolism*
  • Enzyme Activation
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic
  • Humans
  • I-kappa B Kinase
  • Isoenzymes / genetics
  • Isoenzymes / metabolism*
  • Jurkat Cells
  • Mutation
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism*
  • Protein Kinase C / genetics
  • Protein Kinase C / metabolism*
  • Protein Kinase C-theta
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction


  • CD28 Antigens
  • CD3 Complex
  • Isoenzymes
  • NF-kappa B
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • CHUK protein, human
  • I-kappa B Kinase
  • IKBKB protein, human
  • IKBKE protein, human
  • PRKCQ protein, human
  • Protein Kinase C
  • Protein Kinase C-theta