A role for NF-κB activation in perforin expression of NK cells upon IL-2 receptor signaling

Jun Zhou, Jin Zhang, Mathias G. Lichtenheld, Gary G. Meadows

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


Optimal NK cell development and activation as well as cytolytic activity involves IL-2Rβ signals that also up-regulate expression of the pore-forming effector molecule perforin. Although the Jak/Stat pathway and specifically Stat5 transcription factors are required to promote many of the respective downstream events, the role of additional signaling pathways and transcription factors remains to be clarified. This report investigates the role of NF-κB activation for perforin expression by NK cells. It is demonstrated that IL-2-induced up-regulation of perforin in primary NK cells and in a model cell line is blocked by two pharmacological agents known to inhibit NF-κB activation. Direct evidence for the activation of the NF-κB pathway by IL-2R signals in NK cells involves activation of the IKKα kinase, inhibitory protein κBα degradation, nuclear translocation of p50/p65 complexes, and ultimately, transcriptional activation of the perforin gene via an NF-κB binding element in its upstream enhancer. Taken together, these observations strongly suggest that IL-2R signals can activate a pathway leading to NF-κB activation in NK cells and that this pathway is involved in the control of perforin expression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1319-1325
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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