Cytoplasmic sequestration of Rel proteins by IκBα requires CRM1- dependent nuclear export

Winnie F. Tam, Linda H. Lee, Laura Davis, Ranjan Sen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

130 Scopus citations


Rel and IκB protein families form a complex cellular regulatory network. A major regulatory function of IκB proteins is to retain Rel proteins in the cell cytoplasm. In addition, IκB proteins have also been postulated to serve nuclear functions. These include the maintenance of inducible NF-κB-dependent gene transcription, as well as termination of inducible transcription. We show that IκBα shuttles between the nucleus and the cytoplasm, utilizing the nuclear export receptor CRM1. A CRM1-binding export sequence was identified in the N-terminal domain of IκBα but not in that of IκBβ or IκBε. By reconstituting major aspects of NF-κB-IκB sequestration in yeast, we demonstrate that cytoplasmic retention of p65 (also called RelA) by IκBα requires Crm1p-dependent nuclear export. In mammalian cells, inhibition of CRM1 by leptomycin B resulted in nuclear localization of cotransfected p65 and IκBα in COS cells and enhanced nuclear relocation of endogenous p65 in T cells. These observations suggest that the main function of IκBα is that of a nuclear export chaperone rather than a cytoplasmic tether. We propose that the nucleus is the major site of p65-IκBα association, from where these complexes must be exported in order to create the cytoplasmic pool.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2269-2284
Number of pages16
JournalMolecular and Cellular Biology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cell Biology


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