Excess of the NF-κB p50 subunit generated by the ubiquitin ligase KPC1 suppresses tumors via PD-L1-and chemokines-mediated mechanisms

Yelena Kravtsova-Ivantsiv, Gilad Goldhirsh, Alexandra Ivantsiv, Ofer Ben Itzhak, Yong Tae Kwon, Eli Pikarsky, Aaron Ciechanover*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) transcription factor is a family of essential regulators of the immune response and cell proliferation and transformation. A typical factor is a heterodimer made of either p50 or p52, which are limited processing products of either p105 or p100, respectively, and a member of the Rel family of proteins, typically p65. The transcriptional program of NF-κB is tightly regulated by the composition of the dimers. In our previous work, we demonstrated that the ubiquitin ligase KPC1 is involved in ubiquitination and proteasomal processing of p105 to generate p50. Its overexpression and the resulting high level of p50 stimulates transcription of a broad array of tumor suppressors. Here we demonstrate that additional mechanisms are involved in the p50-mediated tumor-suppressive effect. p50 down-regulates expression of a major immune checkpoint inhibitor, the programmed cell death-ligand 1 (PD-L1), both in cells and in tumors. Importantly, the suppression is abrogated by overexpression of p65. This highlights the importance of the cellular quantities of the two different subunits of NF-κB which determine the composition of the dimer. While the putative p50 homodimer is tumor-suppressive, the "canonical" p50p65 heterodimer is oncogenic. We found that an additional mechanism is involved in the tumor-suppressive phenomenon: p50 up-regulates expression of the proinflammatory chemokines CCL3, CCL4, and CCL5, which in turn recruit into the tumors active natural killer (NK) cells and macrophages. Overall, p50 acts as a strong tumor suppressor via multiple mechanisms, including overexpression of tumor suppressors and modulation of the tumor microenvironment by recruiting active immune cells.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)29823-29831
Number of pages9
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number47
StatePublished - 24 Nov 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS. A.C. and E.P. were supported by a grant from the Adelson Medical Research Foundation. A.C. was supported by grants from the Israel Science Foundation and by a grant from the Albert Sweet Foundation via the American Technion Society. A.C. is an Israel Cancer Research Fund Professor. We thank Dr. Bassem Fares for his technical help.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.


  • Chemokines
  • NF-κB p50
  • PD-L1
  • Tumor suppression
  • Ubiquitin ligase KPC1


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