The nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kB) family of transcription factors controls inter- and intracellular signaling, cellular stress responses, cell growth, survival, and apoptosis. In resting cells, NF-kB dimers with transcription activation potential are sequestered in the cytoplasm by interaction with a family of inhibitors of kappa B proteins (lkBs). Following the action of a large number of different stimuli, the inhibitor is phosphorylated, ubiquinated, and degraded, freeing the NF-kB nuclear localization signal which targets the NF-kB to the nucleus. Differential transcription activation of target genes is linked to temporal control of NF-kB activity that can be described by a mathematical model. In Overall AIM 1, we will explore the dynamics of the interaction between the NF-kB transcription factors and their inhibitors. Binding kinetics and thermodynamics for the lkBalpha /NF-kB interaction will be correlated to theoretical predictions of whether and where folding is coupled to binding in the interaction. New structures of the complexes formed between family members will be solved and dynamics changes that occur upon complex formation will be analyzed. The experiments will better parameterize the mathematical model. In Overall AIM 2, we will explore the structure and function of free lkBalpha and endeavor to understand whether its partially folded structure is important for any of its functions. Free lkBalpha has marginal in vitro thermodynamic stability and may be degraded intracellularly by a ubiquitin-independent proteasome degradation pathway. A panel of mutants will be analyzed for thermodynamic stability and in vitro and in vivo proteasome degradation rates. In Overall AIM 3, we will develop novel integrative approaches that cross the boundaries from in silico theory to in vitro biochemical and biophysical experiments to the in vivo properties of the NF-kB signaling network. Theoretical algorithms will be developed to more accurately predict structures from low resolution experimental data on partially folded protein ensembles. Our unique combination of theory, in vitro biochemical and biophysical characterization, and in vivo studies will enable us to map the landscape by systematic perturbation of the NF-kB signaling network. Thus, the NF-kB/lkBalpha signaling system represents a unique example where a deep biophysical understanding of the protein interaction dynamics can be quantitatively linked to the emergent biological response.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Research Program Projects (P01)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-BCMB-F (41))
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Wehrle, Janna P
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University of California San Diego
Schools of Arts and Sciences
La Jolla
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