NF-κB transcription factors are regulators of a wide spectrum of genes involved in immune responses and inflammation as well as cellular proliferation and survival. Transcriptionally competent NF-κB dimers are retained in the cytoplasm of resting cells by binding to inhibitors of NF-κB (IκBs). Stimuli that activate NF-κB converge on the activation of the IκB kinase (IKK), resulting in phosphorylation and subsequent proteasomal degradation of IκB. This releases functional NF-κB dimers that rapidly move to the nucleus where they regulate transcription of NF-κB-dependent target genes. The study of signalling to NF-κB from T and B lymphocyte antigen receptors is a field of intense investigation, and much attention is focused on the complex of the molecular scaffolding proteins Carma1, Bcl10 and MALT1. Together, these are crucial for the organisation of a structure beneath the activated receptor, termed the immunological synapse. IKK is recruited to this structure and becomes activated, subsequently leading to activation of NF-κB. Calcium (Ca2+) is a ubiquitous intracellular messenger that is involved in the regulation of numerous aspects of cellular function, including transcription. NF-κB activity is known to be regulated by changes in intracellular Ca2+ levels, such as those created by antigen receptor activation, but the mechanisms are to a large extent undefined. Ca2+ signals in cells are transmitted predominantly by the ubiquitous Ca2+ sensor protein calmodulin (CaM). Signalling that increases the intracellular Ca2+ concentration leads to binding of Ca2+ to CaM, which changes its structure, thereby allowing it to interact with a new range of target proteins. The studies of NF-κB signalling in lymphocytes presented here reveal that CaM is involved, both directly and indirectly, in the regulation of NF-κB. CaM was found to interact directly and in a Ca2+-dependent manner with the NF-κB proteins RelA and c-Rel after their signal-induced release from IκB. The interaction of CaM with c-Rel, but not RelA, was found to be inhibitory for its nuclear accumulation and transcriptional activity on Ca2+-regulated IL-2 and GM-CSF promoters; thus, CaM binding was found to differentially regulate c-Rel and RelA in lymphocytes. CaM was also shown to interact directly and in a Ca2+-dependent manner with Bcl10. The interaction was mapped to the Carma1-interacting CARD domain of Bcl10 and was found to have a negative effect on the ability of Bcl10 to bind to Carma1. Binding of CaM to Bcl10 also had a negative effect on activation of NF-κB after T cell receptor stimulation, since a point mutant of Bcl10 with reduced binding to CaM showed increased activation of an NF-κB reporter in Jurkat T cells, which was further enhanced by TCR-activating stimuli. In addition, CaM was found to positively regulate NF-κB activation indirectly through CaM-dependent kinase II (CaMKII). Inhibitors of CaM and CaMKII were shown to inhibit IκBα degradation in lymphocytes induced by phorbol ester or T cell receptor stimulation. The actions of CaMKII were mapped to a point upstream of IKK activation and further studies revealed that CaMKII is recruited to the immunological synapse, where it inducibly interacts with and phosphorylates Bcl10 at multiple sites. Phosphorylation of Bcl10 by CaMKII was shown to be important for the ability of Bcl10 to activate NF-κB, since mutation of the phosphorylation sites of Bcl10 inhibited Bcl10-induced transcriptional activity of NF-κB, in part by preventing signalinduced ubiquitination and degradation of Bcl10
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