IKKα contributes to canonical NF-κB activation downstream of Nod1-mediated peptidoglycan recognition

PLoS One. 2010 Oct 15;5(10):e15371. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0015371.


Background: During pathogen infection, innate immunity is initiated via the recognition of microbial products by pattern recognition receptors and the subsequent activation of transcription factors that upregulate proinflammatory genes. By controlling the expression of cytokines, chemokines, anti-bacterial peptides and adhesion molecules, the transcription factor nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB) has a central function in this process. In a typical model of NF-κB activation, the recognition of pathogen associated molecules triggers the canonical NF-κB pathway that depends on the phosphorylation of Inhibitor of NF-κB (IκB) by the catalytic subunit IκB kinase β (IKKβ), its degradation and the nuclear translocation of NF-κB dimers.

Methodology: Here, we performed an RNA interference (RNAi) screen on Shigella flexneri-induced NF-κB activation to identify new factors involved in the regulation of NF-κB following infection of epithelial cells by invasive bacteria. By targeting a subset of the human signaling proteome, we found that the catalytic subunit IKKα is also required for complete NF-κB activation during infection. Depletion of IKKα by RNAi strongly reduces the nuclear translocation of NF-κB p65 during S. flexneri infection as well as the expression of the proinflammatory chemokine interleukin-8. Similar to IKKβ, IKKα contributes to the phosphorylation of IκBα on serines 32 and 36, and to its degradation. Experiments performed with the synthetic Nod1 ligand L-Ala-D-γ-Glu-meso-diaminopimelic acid confirmed that IKKα is involved in NF-κB activation triggered downstream of Nod1-mediated peptidoglycan recognition.

Conclusions: Taken together, these results demonstrate the unexpected role of IKKα in the canonical NF-κB pathway triggered by peptidoglycan recognition during bacterial infection. In addition, they suggest that IKKα may be an important drug target for the development of treatments that aim at limiting inflammation in bacterial infection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Blotting, Western
  • DNA Primers
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • I-kappa B Kinase / metabolism*
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism*
  • Nod1 Signaling Adaptor Protein / metabolism*
  • Peptidoglycan / metabolism*
  • RNA Interference


  • DNA Primers
  • NF-kappa B
  • NOD1 protein, human
  • Nod1 Signaling Adaptor Protein
  • Peptidoglycan
  • I-kappa B Kinase