Journal Article

The Activity of NF-κB in Swiss 3T3 Cells Exposed to Aqueous Extracts of Cigarette Smoke Is Dependent on Thioredoxin

Stephan Gebel and Thomas Müller

in Toxicological Sciences

Volume 59, issue 1, pages 75-81
Published in print January 2001 | ISSN: 1096-6080
Published online January 2001 | e-ISSN: 1096-0929 | DOI:
The Activity of NF-κB in Swiss 3T3 Cells Exposed to Aqueous Extracts of Cigarette Smoke Is Dependent on Thioredoxin

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Multiple studies in vitro have demonstrated that aqueous extracts of mainstream cigarette smoke (CS) [smoke-bubbled phosphate-buffered saline (PBS)] induce a distinct pattern of stress response in cultured cells, which may be related to the reported pro-inflammatory activities of CS in vitro and in vivo. Nuclear factor κB (NF-κB) is a transcription factor involved in both inflammatory and stress-dependent cell-signaling processes. Here we report on the activity of NF-κB in cells exposed to subcytotoxic concentrations of smoke-bubbled PBS. Using electrophoretic mobility shift assay (EMSA) techniques, we observed a decreased DNA binding of NF-κB during the first 2 h of exposure, which was followed by a more than 2-fold increase over controls after 4 to 6 h of exposure. This type of kinetics is not regulated by IκB-α, as evidenced by the lack of phosphorylation and degradation of IκB-α in CS-treated cells. However, as demonstrated in immuno-coprecipitation experiments, the kinetics of NF-κB DNA binding is strictly paralleled by decreased and increased complex formation between NF-κB and thioredoxin (Trx), the reducing catalyst of Cys-62 of NF-κB subunit p50, the reduced thiol function of which is essential for efficient NF-κB DNA binding. Monitoring the expression of the gene encoding thioredoxin reductase (TrxR), which is required to keep Trx in a functional reduced state, we observed a significant increase in TrxR mRNA after 2 to 6 h of exposure. Based on the correspondence between the kinetics of NF-κB DNA binding, NF-κB/Trx complex formation, and TrxR expression, along with a lack of IκB-α phosphorylation and degradation, these results suggest that the activity of NF-κB in CS-treated cells is subject mainly to a redox-controlled mechanism dependent on the availability of reduced Trx rather than being controlled by its normal regulator, IκB-α.

Keywords: cigarette smoke; NF-κB; thioredoxin; thiol oxidation; glutathione

Journal Article.  5059 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medical Toxicology ; Toxicology (Non-medical)

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