In normal cells exposed to stress, the central transcription factor NF-κB is activated only transiently, to modulate the activation of downstream immune responses. However, in most cancers, NFkB is abnormally activated constitutively, contributing thus to oncogenesis and tumor progression. Therefore, downregulating NF-κB activity is an important goal of cancer treatment. In order to control NF-κB activity therapeutically, it is helpful to understand the molecular mechanisms that normally govern its activation and how dysregulated NF-κB activity may aid the development of disease. Recent evidence from our laboratories and others indicates that, in addition to various posttranslational modifications of NF-κB that have been observed previously, including phosphorylation, ubiquitination, and acetylation, NF-κB can be methylated reversibly on lysine or arginine residues by histonemodifying enzymes, including lysine and arginine methyl transferases and demethylases. Furthermore, these methylations are required to activate many downstream genes. Interestingly, amplifications and mutations of several such enzymes have been linked to cancer. We propose that some of these mutations may alter the methylation not only of histones but also of NF-κB, making them attractive therapeutic targets.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research