The IKK Kinases: Operators of Antiviral Signaling

Viruses. 2010 Jan;2(1):55-72. doi: 10.3390/v2010055. Epub 2010 Jan 8.


The ability of a cell to combat an intracellular pathogen requires a mechanism to recognize the threat and elicit a transcriptional response against it. In the context of virus infection, the cell must take measures to inhibit viral replication, meanwhile, convey warning signals to neighboring cells of the imminent threat. This immune response is predominantly mediated by the production of cytokines, notably, interferon beta (IFNβ). IFNβ signaling results in the transcriptional induction of over one hundred antiviral gene products whose timely expression renders infected cells more capable of inhibiting virus replication, while providing the uninfected cells with the reinforcements to generate a less permissive cellular environment. Induction of IFNβ and many aspects of the antiviral response pivot on the function of the IKK and IKK-related kinases. Despite sharing high levels of homology and some degree of functional redundancy, the classic IKK kinases: IKKα and IKKβ, and the IKK-related kinases: TBK1 and IKKɛ, perform distinct roles in regulating the host antiviral defense. These kinases serve as molecular operators in their cooperative ability to integrate incoming cellular cues and act on a range of essential antiviral transcription factors to reshape the cellular transcriptome during infection.

Keywords: DAI; IKK; IKK-related; IKKalpha; IKKbeta; IKKepsilon; NF-kappa B; RIG-I; TBK1; TLR; antiviral; interferon; kinase; mda5.