Regulation of late B cell differentiation by intrinsic IKKα-dependent signals

David M. Mills, Giuseppina Bonizzi, Michael Karin, Robert C. Rickert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


NF-κB-inducing kinase (NIK)-mediated IKKα phosphorylation activates the alternative NF-κB pathway, which is characterized by nuclear translocation of p52:RelB heterodimers. This alternative pathway is initiated by a select few receptors, including LT-βR, BAFF-R, and CD40. Although NIK, IKKα, and p52 are all critical regulators of LT-βR signaling in stromal cells during humoral immune responses, lymphocytes require NIK, but not p52, for optimal Ig production. This disparity suggests that NIK possesses critical cell-type-specific functions that do not depend on NF-κB. Here we use mice bearing targeted mutations of the IKKα activation loop Ser 176/180 (IKKαAA) to address the B cell-intrinsic functions of NIK-IKKα signaling in vivo. We find that IKKα AA B cells mount normal primary antibody responses but do not enter germinal centers. This defect likely derives from ineffective early T-B cell collaboration and leads to impaired generation of humoral memory and relatively short-lived, low-affinity antibody production. Our findings contrast with those obtained by using p52-/- B cells, which mount normal Ig responses, and alymphoplasia (NIK mutant) B cells, which produce very little primary Ig. Thus, the NIK-IKKα-p52 axis is not as linear and exclusive as previous studies suggest and IKKα possesses critical NF-κB-independent functions in B cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6359-6364
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - Apr 10 2007


  • Germinal center

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General
  • Genetics


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