Activation of NF-κB by the human T cell leukemia virus type I tax oncoprotein is associated with ubiquitin-dependent relocalization of IκB kinase

Nicole S. Harhaj, Shao Cong Sun, Edward W. Harhaj

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Human T cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1) is the etiological agent of adult T cell leukemia. HTLV-1 encodes a trans-activating protein, Tax, which is largely responsible for the oncogenic properties of the virus. Tax promotes T cell transformation by deregulating the activity of various cellular factors, including the transcription factor NF-κB. Tax activates the IκB kinase (IKK) via physical interaction with the regulatory subunit, IKKγ, although it is unknown precisely how Tax activates the IKK complex. Here we show that Tax modulates the cellular localization of the IKK complex. The IKKs relocalize from a broad distribution in the cytoplasm to concentrated perinuclear "hot spots" in both HTLV-1-transformed lines and in Tax-expressing Jurkat cells. Relocalization of IKK is not observed with Tax mutants unable to activate NF-κB, suggesting that only activated forms of IKK are relocalized. However, relocalization of IKK is strictly dependent on Tax expression because it does not occur in ATL cell lines that lack Tax expression or in Jurkat cells treated with phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate and ionomycin. Furthermore, IKKγ is required for redistribution because cells lacking IKKγ were unable to relocalize IKKα upon expression of Tax. We also find that Tax ubiquitination likely regulates IKK relocalization because mutation of three critical lysine residues in Tax renders it unable to relocalize IKK and activate the canonical and noncanonical NF-κB pathways. Finally, we have observed that the perinuclear IKK in Tax-expressing cells colocalizes with the Golgi, and disruption of Golgi with either nocodazole or brefeldin A leads to a redistribution of IKK to the cytoplasm. Together, these results demonstrate that Tax induces relocalization of the IKK complex in a ubiquitin-dependent manner, and dynamic changes in the subcellular localization of the IKK complex may be critical for Tax function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4185-4192
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 9 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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