Reactive oxygen intermediates as apparently widely used messengers in the activation of the NF-kappa B transcription factor and HIV-1

EMBO J. 1991 Aug;10(8):2247-58. doi: 10.1002/j.1460-2075.1991.tb07761.x.


Hydrogen peroxide and oxygen radicals are agents commonly produced during inflammatory processes. In this study, we show that micromolar concentrations of H2O2 can induce the expression and replication of HIV-1 in a human T cell line. The effect is mediated by the NF-kappa B transcription factor which is potently and rapidly activated by an H2O2 treatment of cells from its inactive cytoplasmic form. N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC), a well characterized antioxidant which counteracts the effects of reactive oxygen intermediates (ROI) in living cells, prevented the activation of NF-kappa B by H2O2. NAC and other thiol compounds also blocked the activation of NF-kappa B by cycloheximide, double-stranded RNA, calcium ionophore, TNF-alpha, active phorbol ester, interleukin-1, lipopolysaccharide and lectin. This suggests that diverse agents thought to activate NF-kappa B by distinct intracellular pathways might all act through a common mechanism involving the synthesis of ROI. ROI appear to serve as messengers mediating directly or indirectly the release of the inhibitory subunit I kappa B from NF-kappa B.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Cell Line
  • Cycloheximide / pharmacology
  • DNA / metabolism
  • Enhancer Elements, Genetic
  • Free Radicals
  • HIV-1 / genetics
  • HIV-1 / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen Peroxide / chemistry*
  • Interleukin-1 / metabolism
  • Lectins / metabolism
  • Lipopolysaccharides / metabolism
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism*
  • Oxygen / chemistry*
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Protein Kinase C / metabolism
  • RNA, Double-Stranded / metabolism
  • T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Tetradecanoylphorbol Acetate / pharmacology
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism
  • Virus Replication


  • Free Radicals
  • Interleukin-1
  • Lectins
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • NF-kappa B
  • RNA, Double-Stranded
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • DNA
  • Cycloheximide
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Protein Kinase C
  • Tetradecanoylphorbol Acetate
  • Oxygen