Nuclear Factor-κB Activation: A Question of Life or Death

  • Shishodia, Shishir (Cytokine Research Section, Department of Bioimmunotherapy, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center) ;
  • Aggarwal, Bharat B. (Cytokine Research Section, Department of Bioimmunotherapy, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center)
  • Published : 2002.01.31


Apoptosis is a mode of cell death that plays an important role in both pathological and physiological processes. Research during the last decade has delineated the entire machinery needed for cell death, and its constituents were found to pre-exist in cells. The apoptotic cascade is triggered when cells are exposed to an apoptotic stimulus. It has been known for several years that inhibitors of protein synthesis can potentiate apoptosis that is induced by cytokines and other inducers. Until 1996, it was not understood why protein synthesis inhibitors potentiate apoptosis. Then three reports appeared that suggested the role of the transcription factor NF-${\kappa}B$ activation in protecting the cells from TNF-induced apoptosis. Since then several proteins have been identified that are regulated by NF-${\kappa}B$ and are involved in cell survival, proliferation, and protection from apoptosis. It now seems that when a cell is attacked by an apoptotic stimulus, the cell responds first by activating anti-apoptotic mechanisms, which mayor may not be followed by apoptosis. Whether or not a cell undergoes proliferation, the survival, or apoptosis, appears to involve a balance between the two mechanisms. Inhibitors of protein synthesis seem to suppress the appearance of protein that are involved in anti-apoptosis. The present review discusses how NF-${\kappa}B$ controls apoptosis.


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