Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) latent infection membrane protein 1 (LMP1)-induced NF-kappaB activation is important for infected cell survival. LMP1 activates NF-kappaB, in part, by engaging tumor necrosis factor (TNF) receptor-associated factors (TRAFs), which also mediate NF-kappaB activation from LTbetaR and CD40. LTbetaR and CD40 activation of p100/NF-kappaB2 is now known to be NIK/IKKalpha-dependent and IKKbeta/IKKgamma independent. In the experiments described here, we found that EBV LMP1 induced p100/NF-kappaB2 processing in human lymphoblasts and HEK293 cells. LMP1-induced p100 processing was NIK/IKKalpha dependent and IKKbeta/IKKgamma independent. Furthermore, the LMP1 TRAF-binding site was required for p100 processing and p52 nuclear localization, whereas the LMP1 death domain-binding site was not. Moreover, the LMP1 TRAF-binding site preferentially caused RelB nuclear accumulation. In murine embryo fibroblasts (MEFs), IKKbeta was essential for LMP1 up-regulation of macrophage inflammatory protein (MIP)-2, TNFalpha, I-TAC, ELC, MIG, and CXCR4 RNAs. Interestingly, in IKKalpha knockout MEFs, LMP1 hyperinduced MIP-2, TNFalpha, and I-TAC expression, consistent with a role for IKKalpha in down-modulating canonical IKKbeta activation or its effects. In contrast, LMP1 failed to up-regulate CXCR4 and MIG RNA in IKKalpha knockout MEFs, indicating a dependence on noncanonical IKKalpha activation. Furthermore, LMP1 up-regulation of MIP-2 RNA in MEFs was both IKKbeta- and IKKgamma-dependent, whereas LMP1 up-regulation of MIG and I-TAC RNA was fully IKKgamma independent. Thus, LMP1 induces typical canonical IKKbeta/IKKgamma-dependent, atypical canonical IKKbeta-dependent/IKKgamma-independent, and noncanonical NIK/IKKalpha-dependent NF-kappaB activations; NIK/IKKalpha-dependent NF-kappaB activation is principally mediated by the LMP1 TRAF-binding site.
Nuclear factor kappaB-inducing kinase (NIK) is a member of the MAP kinase kinase kinase family that was first identified as a component of the TNF-R1-induced NF-kappaB activation pathway (TNF, tumor necrosis factor; nuclear factor kappaB, NF-kappaB). Gene knockout study, however, suggests that NIK is dispensable for TNF-R1- but required for lymphotoxin-beta receptor-induced NF-kappaB activation. A NIK kinase inactive mutant is a potent inhibitor of NF-kappaB activation triggered by various stimuli, suggesting that NIK is involved in a broad range of NF-kappaB activation pathways. To unambiguously identify signaling pathways that NIK participates in, we screened antibody arrays for proteins that are associated with NIK. This effort identified ErbB4, one of the EGF/heregulin receptors, and Grb7, an adapter protein associated with ErbB4 (ErbB, epidermal growth factor receptor family protein; EGF, epidermal growth factor; Grb, growth factor receptor bound). Coimmunoprecipitation experiments demonstrated that NIK interacted with Grb7, as well as Grb10 and Grb14, but not Grb2. Domain mapping experiments indicated that the central GM domain of Grb7 was sufficient for its interaction with NIK. Coimmunoprecipitation experiments also indicated that Grb7 and NIK could be simultaneously recruited into signaling complexes of all known EGF/heregulin receptors, including EGFR, ErbB2, ErbB3, and ErbB4. In reporter gene assays, NIK could potentiate Grb7, ErbB2/ErbB4, and EGF-induced NF-kappaB activation. A NIK kinase inactive mutant could block ErbB2/ErbB4 and EGF-induced NF-kappaB activation. Moreover, EGF/heregulin receptors activated NF-kappaB in wild-type, but not NIK-/- embryonic fibroblasts. Our findings suggest that NIK is a component of the EGF/heregulin receptor signaling complexes and involved in NF-kappaB activation triggered by these receptors.