The ubiquitin-dependent proteolytic system and other potential targets for the modulation of nuclear factor-kB (NF-kB)

Curr Drug Targets. 2000 Dec;1(4):387-99. doi: 10.2174/1389450003349056.


Nuclear Factor-kB (NF-kB), is a transcription factor composed of dimeric complexes of p50 (NF-kB1) or p52 (NF-kB2) usually associated with members of the Rel family (p65, c-Rel, Rel B) which have potent transactivation domains. Different combinations of NF-kB/Rel proteins bind distinct kB sites to regulate the transcription of different genes. In resting cells NF-kB resides in the cytoplasm in inactive form, complexed to members of a family of inhibitory proteins referred to as IkB. The bound IkB masks the NF-kB nuclear localization signal and thereby inhibits its nuclear transport. NF-kB can be activated by a variety of signals relevant to pathophysiology including inflammatory cytokines and bacterial lipopolysaccharides (LPS) as well as oxidative and fluid mechanical stress. Upon activation by these stimuli, IkB is phosphorylated and subsequently degraded. Phosphorylation targets IkB for ubiquitination and degradation by the 26S proteasome thus leading to NF-kB nuclear translocation. The same proteolytic pathway is involved in the processing of the p105 and p100 precursors to generate mature p50 and p52 subunits, respectively. Once in the nucleus, NF-kB is able to regulate the expression of many genes involved in the immune and inflammatory responses (i.e. inflammatory cytokines and adhesion molecules). Thus, new approaches to modulating NF-kB activation, and as a consequence inflammatory or metastatic processes, may take advantage of the selectivity of the ubiquitination and ATP-dependent proteolytic processes leading to IkB turnover. This review will analyze the current strategies aimed at interfering with NF-kB activation and will consider the ubiquitination system as a new selective target for the development of new anti-inflammatory therapies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Endopeptidases / drug effects
  • Endopeptidases / genetics
  • Endopeptidases / physiology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation / genetics
  • Humans
  • NF-kappa B / drug effects
  • NF-kappa B / genetics
  • NF-kappa B / physiology*
  • Ubiquitins / drug effects
  • Ubiquitins / genetics
  • Ubiquitins / physiology*


  • NF-kappa B
  • Ubiquitins
  • Endopeptidases