NF-κB (nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells) is a protein complex that controls transcription of DNA, cytokine production and cell survival. NF-κB is found in almost all animal cell types and is involved in cellular responses to stimuli such as stress, cytokines, free radicals, heavy metals, ultraviolet irradiation, oxidized LDL, and bacterial or viral antigens.
NF-κB plays a key role in regulating the immune response to infection (κ light chains are critical components of immunoglobulins). Incorrect regulation of NF-κB has been linked to cancer, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, septic shock, viral infection, and improper immune development. NF-κB has also been implicated in processes of synaptic plasticity and memory.
In a report Anto et al., investigated whether tobacco smoking condensate (TSC) activates NF-kappaB, and whether the pathway employed for activation is similar to that of TNF, one of the potent activators of NF-kappaB.
The results show that the treatment of human histiocytic lymphoma U-937 cells with TSC activated NF-kappaB in a dose- and time-dependent manner. The kinetics of NF-kappaB activation by TSC was comparable with that of TNF. CSC-induced NF-kappaB activation was not cell type-specific, as it also activated NF-kappaB in T cells (Jurkat), lung cells (H1299), and head and neck squamous cell lines (1483 and 14B). Activation of NF-kappaB by CSC correlated with time-dependent degradation of IkappaB(alpha), an inhibitor of NF-kappaB. Further studies revealed that CSC induced phosphorylation of the serine residue at position 32 in IkappaB(alpha). In vitro immunocomplex kinase assays showed that CSC activated IkappaB(alpha) kinase (IKK). The suppression of CSC-activated NF-kappaB-dependent reporter gene expression by dominant negative form of IkappaB(alpha), TRAF2, NIK and IKK suggests a similarity to the TNF-induced pathway for NF-kappaB. CSC also induced the expression of cyclooxygenase-2, an NF-kappaB regulated gene product. Overall, the results indicate that through phosphorylation and degradation of IkappaB(alpha), CSC can activate NF-kappaB in a wide a variety of cells, and this may play a role in CS-induced carcinogenesis 2).