Recent advances towards understanding redox mechanisms in the activation of nuclear factor kappaB

Free Radic Biol Med. 2000 May 1;28(9):1317-27. doi: 10.1016/s0891-5849(00)00218-5.


The transcription factor, nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB) has been studied extensively due to its prominent role in the regulation of immune and inflammatory genes, apoptosis, and cell proliferation. It has been known for more that a decade that NF-kappaB is a redox-sensitive transcription factor. The contribution of redox regulation and the location of potential redox-sensitive sites within the NF-kappaB activation pathway are subject to intense debate due to many conflicting reports. Redox regulation of NF-kappaB has been extensively addressed in this journal and the reader is referred to two comprehensive reviews on the subject [1,2]. With the identification of signaling intermediates proximal to the degradation of the inhibitor, IkappaB, the number of potential redox-sensitive sites is rapidly increasing. The purpose of this review is to address recent insights into the NF-kappaB signaling cascades that are triggered by proinflammatory cytokines such as TNF-alpha and IL-1beta. In addition, the role of nitrogen monoxide (.NO) in the regulation of NF-kappaB will be reviewed. Opportunities for redox regulation that occur upstream of IkappaB-alpha degradation, as well as the potential for redox control of phosphorylation of NF-kappaB subunits, will be discussed. Redox-sensitive steps are likely to depend on the nature of the NF-kappaB activator, the type of reactive oxygen or nitrogen species involved, the selectivity of signaling pathways activated, as well as the cell type under investigation. Lastly, it is discussed how redox regulation of NF-kappaB activation is likely to involve multiple subcellular compartments.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dimerization
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation / physiology*
  • Humans
  • I-kappa B Proteins / physiology
  • Inflammation
  • MAP Kinase Signaling System / physiology
  • Models, Biological
  • NF-kappa B / chemistry
  • NF-kappa B / physiology*
  • Nitric Oxide / physiology
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase / physiology
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / physiology
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / physiology
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Transcription, Genetic*


  • I-kappa B Proteins
  • NF-kappa B
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases