Nuclear factor κB (NF-κB) is an antiapoptotic transcription factor. We show that the antiapoptotic actions of NF-κB are mediated by hydrogen sulfide (H(2)S) synthesized by cystathionine gamma-lyase (CSE). TNF-α treatment triples H(2)S generation by stimulating binding of SP1 to the CSE promoter. H(2)S generated by CSE stimulates DNA binding and gene activation of NF-κB, processes that are abolished in CSE-deleted mice. As CSE deletion leads to decreased glutathione levels, resultant oxidative stress may contribute to alterations in CSE mutant mice. H(2)S acts by sulfhydrating the p65 subunit of NF-κB at cysteine-38, which promotes its binding to the coactivator ribosomal protein S3 (RPS3). Sulfhydration of p65 predominates early after TNF-α treatment, then declines and is succeeded by a reciprocal enhancement of p65 nitrosylation. In CSE mutant mice, antiapoptotic influences of NF-κB are markedly diminished. Thus, sulfhydration of NF-κB appears to be a physiologic determinant of its antiapoptotic transcriptional activity.
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