The zinc finger domain of IKKγ (NEMO) protein in health and disease

J Cell Mol Med. 2010 Oct;14(10):2404-14. doi: 10.1111/j.1582-4934.2010.01054.x.


Inhibitor of κB kinase (IKK) gamma (IKKγ), also known as nuclear factor κB (NF-κB) essential modulator (NEMO), is a component of the IKK complex that is essential for the activation of the NF-κB pathway. The NF-κB pathway plays a major role in the regulation of the expression of genes that are involved in immune response, inflammation, cell adhesion, cell survival and development. As part of the IKK complex, IKKγ plays a regulatory role by linking the complex to upstream signalling molecules. IKKγ contains two coiled-coil regions, a leucine zipper domain and a highly conserved zinc finger domain. Mutations affecting IKKγ have been associated with X-linked hypohidrotic ectodermal dysplasia with immune deficiency (HED-ID), with the majority of these mutations affecting the C-terminal region of the protein where the zinc finger is located. The zinc finger of IKKγ is needed for NF-κB activation in a cell- and stimulus-specific manner. The major mechanism by which the zinc finger plays this role appears to be the recognition of polyubiquitinated upstream signalling intermediates. This assertion reinforces the current notion that ubiquitination plays a major role in mediating protein-protein interactions in the NF-κB signalling pathway. Because the zinc finger domain of IKKγ is very likely involved in mediating interactions with ubiquitinated proteins, investigations that look for upstream activators or inhibitors of the IKK complex that bind to and interact with the zinc finger of IKKγ are required to gain a better insight into the exact roles of this domain and into the pathogenesis of HED-ID.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Ectodermal Dysplasia / genetics
  • Ectodermal Dysplasia / immunology
  • Ectodermal Dysplasia / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Humans
  • Hyper-IgM Immunodeficiency Syndrome / genetics
  • Hyper-IgM Immunodeficiency Syndrome / immunology
  • Hyper-IgM Immunodeficiency Syndrome / metabolism
  • I-kappa B Kinase / genetics*
  • I-kappa B Kinase / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mutation*
  • NF-kappa B / genetics
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Interaction Domains and Motifs*
  • Rats
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism
  • Ubiquitination
  • Zinc Fingers*


  • NF-kappa B
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • I-kappa B Kinase