Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a negative-strand RNA virus, is the most common cause of epidemic respiratory disease in infants and young children. RSV infection of airway epithelial cells induces the expression of immune/inflammatory genes through the activation of a subset of transcription factors, including Nuclear Factor-κB (NF-κB). In this study we have investigated the role of the non canonical IκB kinase (IKK)ε in modulating RSV-induced NF-κB activation. Our results show that inhibition of IKKε activation results in significant impairment of viral-induced NF-κB-dependent gene expression, through a reduction in NF-κB transcriptional activity, without changes in nuclear translocation or DNA-binding activity. Absence of IKKε results in a significant decrease of RSV-induced NF-κB phosphorylation on serine 536, a post-translational modification important for RSV-induced NF-κB-dependent gene expression, known to regulate NF-κB transcriptional activity without affecting nuclear translocation. This study identifies a novel mechanism by which IKKε regulates viral-induced cellular signaling.
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