Ubiquitin-dependent degradation of IkappaBalpha is mediated by a ubiquitin ligase Skp1/Cul 1/F-box protein FWD1.
Activation of the transcription factor nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kappaB) is controlled by proteolysis of its inhibitory subunit (IkappaB) via the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway. Signal-induced phosphorylation of IkappaBalpha by a large multisubunit complex containing IkappaB kinases is a prerequisite for ubiquitination. Here, we show that FWD1 (a mouse homologue of Slimb/betaTrCP), a member of the F-box/WD40-repeat proteins, is associated specifically with IkappaBalpha only when IkappaBalpha is phosphorylated. The introduction of FWD1 into cells significantly promotes ubiquitination and degradation of IkappaBalpha in concert with IkappaB kinases, resulting in nuclear translocation of NF-kappaB. In addition, FWD1 strikingly evoked the ubiquitination of IkappaBalpha in the in vitro system. In contrast, a dominant-negative form of FWD1 inhibits the ubiquitination, leading to stabilization of IkappaBalpha. These results suggest that the substrate-specific degradation of IkappaBalpha is mediated by a Skp1/Cull 1/F-box protein (SCF) FWD1 ubiquitin-ligase complex and that FWD1 serves as an intracellular receptor for phosphorylated IkappaBalpha. Skp1/Cullin/F-box protein FWD1 might play a critical role in transcriptional regulation of NF-kappaB through control of IkappaB protein stability.