The Many Facets of NF-Kappa B

NF-κB (nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells) is a protein complex that acts as a transcription factor. NF-κB is found in almost all animal cell types and is involved in cellular responses to stimuli such as stress, cytokines, free radicals, ultraviolet irradiation, oxidized LDL, and bacterial or viral antigens. NF-κB plays a key role in regulating the immune response to infection. Consistent with this role, incorrect regulation of NF-κB has been linked to cancer, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, septic shock, viral infection, and improper immune development. NF-κB has also been implicated in processes of synaptic plasticity and memory.


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NF-κB was first discovered in the lab of Nobel Prize laureate David Baltimore via its interaction with an 11-base pair sequence in the immunoglobulin light-chain enhancer in B cells.

About the Speaker
Baltimore was born in New York City and graduated from Great Neck High School in 1956.He earned a BA at Swarthmore College in 1960, and received his Ph.D. at Rockefeller University in 1964. After postdoctoral fellowships at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Albert Einstein College of Medicine and a non-faculty research position at the Salk Institute, he joined the MIT faculty in 1968.

In 1975, at the age of 37, he shared the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine with Howard Temin and Renato Dulbecco. The citation reads, "for their discoveries concerning the interaction between tumour viruses and the genetic material of the cell." At the time, Baltimore's greatest contribution to virology was his discovery of reverse transcriptase (RTase or RT). Reverse transcriptase is essential for the reproduction of retroviruses such as HIV and was also discovered independently, and at about the same time, by Mizutani and Temin.
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