NF-κB is a transcription factor for the immune activation and tissue stability, but excess activation of NF-κB often causes inflammation and cancer. An NF-κB component RelB is involved in B-cell maturation and autoimmunity. In the present research we studied the role of the RelB DNA binding domain on cellular stability and importin affinity. We prepared a RelB protein mutated at Arg141 to Ala and Tyr142 to Ala (AA mutant) having no DNA binding activity. The stability of this mutant protein was greatly reduced compared with that of the wild-type protein. We also constructed a nuclear localization signal-inactivated mutant of RelB, and found that this mutant was also unstable in the cells. Thus, RelB destabilization was caused by the loss of DNA binding possibly because of the change in cellular localization. The mutation also decreased the affinity to importin-α5 decreasing the nuclear localization. Our newly discovered NF-κB inhibitor (-)-DHMEQ binds to a specific Cys residue in RelB to inhibit DNA binding and also decreased the stability and importin affinity. These findings would indicate that the DNA binding activity of this transcription factor is a crucial for its stability and intracellular localization.
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