Retrograde transport of transcription factor NF-kappa B in living neurons

J Biol Chem. 2001 Apr 13;276(15):11821-9. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M009253200. Epub 2000 Nov 28.


The mechanism by which signals such as those produced by glutamate are transferred to the nucleus may involve direct transport of an activated transcription factor to trigger long-term transcriptional changes. Ionotropic glutamate receptor activation or depolarization activates transcription factor NF-kappaB and leads to translocation of NF-kappaB from the cytoplasm to the nucleus. We investigated the dynamics of NF-kappaB translocation in living neurons by tracing the NF-kappaB subunit RelA (p65) with jellyfish green fluorescent protein. We found that green fluorescent protein-RelA was located in either the nucleus or cytoplasm and neurites, depending on the coexpression of the cognate inhibitor of NF-kappaB, IkappaB-alpha. Stimulation with glutamate, kainate, or potassium chloride resulted in a redistribution of NF-kappaB from neurites to the nucleus. This transport depended on an intact nuclear localization signal on RelA. Thus, in addition to its role as a transcription factor, NF-kappaB may be a signal transducer, transmitting transient glutamatergic signals from distant sites to the nucleus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Cell Line
  • DNA Primers
  • Glutamic Acid / metabolism
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Hippocampus / cytology
  • Hippocampus / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Kainic Acid / metabolism
  • Ligases / metabolism
  • Luminescent Proteins / metabolism
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism*
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Protein Transport
  • Rats
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / metabolism
  • Subcellular Fractions / metabolism


  • DNA Primers
  • Luminescent Proteins
  • NF-kappa B
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Ligases
  • guanosine 3',5'-polyphosphate synthetases
  • Kainic Acid