Paclitaxel sensitivity of breast cancer cells with constitutively active NF-κB is enhanced by IκBα super-repressor and parthenolide

Nikhil M. Patel, Shinichi Nozaki, Nicholas H. Shortle, Poornima Bhat-Nakshatri, Thomas R. Newton, Susan Rice, Vasily Gelfanov, Scott H. Boswell, Robert J. Goulet, George W. Sledge, Harikrishna Nakshatri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

251 Scopus citations


The transcription factor nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) regulates genes important for tumor invasion, metastasis and chemoresistance. Normally, NF-κB remains sequestered in an inactive state by cytoplasmic inhibitor-of-κB (IκB) proteins. NF-κB translocates to nucleus and activates gene expression upon exposure of cells to growth factors and cytokines. We and others have shown previously that NF-κB is constitutively active in a subset of breast cancers. In this study, we show that constitutive activation of NF-κB leads to overexpression of the anti-apoptotic genes c-inhibitor of apoptosis 2 (c-IAP2) and manganese superoxide dismutase (Mn-SOD) in breast cancer cells. Furthermore, expression of the anti-apoptotic tumor necrosis factor receptor associated factor 1 (TRAF1) and defender-against cell death (DAD-1) is regulated by NF-κB in certain breast cancer cells. We also demonstrate that NF-κB-inducible genes protect cancer cells against paclitaxel as MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells modified to overexpress IκBα required lower concentrations of paclitaxel to arrest at the G2/M phase of the cell cycle and undergo apoptosis when compared to parental cells. The effect of NF-κB on paclitaxel-sensitivity appears to be specific to cancer cells because normal fibroblasts derived from embryos lacking p65 subunit of NF-κB and wild type littermate embryos were insensitive to paclitaxel-induced G2/M cell cycle arrest. Parthenolide, an active ingredient of herbal remedies such as feverfew (tanacetum parthenium), mimicked the effects of IκBα by inhibiting NF-κB DNA binding activity and Mn-SOD expression, and increasing paclitaxel-induced apoptosis of breast cancer cells. These results suggest that active ingredients of herbs with anti-inflammatory properties may be useful in increasing the sensitivity of cancers with constitutively active NF-κB to chemotherapeutic drugs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4159-4169
Number of pages11
Issue number36
StatePublished - Aug 24 2000


  • Breast cancer
  • NF-κB
  • Paclitaxel
  • Parthenolide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cancer Research
  • Genetics

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Paclitaxel sensitivity of breast cancer cells with constitutively active NF-κB is enhanced by IκBα super-repressor and parthenolide'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this