The p50 subunit of NF-kappaB is generated by limited processing of the precursor p105. IkappaB kinase-mediated phosphorylation of the C-terminal domain of p105 recruits the SCF(beta-TrCP) ubiquitin ligase, resulting in rapid ubiquitination and subsequent processing/degradation of p105. NEDD8 is known to activate SCF ligases following modification of their cullin component. Here we show that NEDDylation is required for conjugation and processing of p105 by SCF(beta-TrCP) following phosphorylation of the molecule. In a crude extract, a dominant negative E2 enzyme, UBC12, inhibits both conjugation and processing of p105, and inhibition is alleviated by an excess of WT- UBC12. In a reconstituted cell-free system, ubiquitination of p105 was stimulated only in the presence of all three components of the NEDD8 pathway, E1, E2, and NEDD8. A Cul-1 mutant that cannot be NEDDylated could not stimulate ubiquitination and processing of p105. Similar findings were observed also in cells. It should be noted that NEDDylation is required only for the stimulated but not for basal processing of p105. Although the mechanisms that underlie processing of p105 are largely obscure, it is clear that NEDDylation and the coordinated activity of SCF(beta-TrCP) on both p105 and IkappaBalpha serve as an important regulatory mechanism controlling NF-kappaB activity.
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