Integrity of IKK/NF‐κB Shields Thymic Stroma That Suppresses Susceptibility to Autoimmunity, Fungal Infection, and Carcinogenesis

Bioessays 40 (4):1700131 (2018)

A pathogenic connection between autoreactive T cells, fungal infection, and carcinogenesis has been demonstrated in studies of human autoimmune polyendocrinopathy-candidiasis-ectodermal dystrophy as well as in a mouse model in which kinase-dead Ikkα knock-in mice develop impaired central tolerance, autoreactive T cell–mediated autoimmunity, chronic fungal infection, and esophageal squamous cell carcinoma, which recapitulates APECED. IκB kinase α is one subunit of the IKK complex required for NF-κB activation. IKK/NF-κB is essential for central tolerance establishment by regulating the development of medullary thymic epithelial cells that facilitate the deletion of autoreactive T cells in the thymus. In this review, we extensively discuss the pathogenic roles of inborn errors in the IKK/NF-κB loci in the phenotypically related diseases APECED, immune deficiency syndrome, and severe combined immunodeficiency; differentiate how IKK/NF-κB components, through mTEC, T cells/leukocytes, or epithelial cells, contribute to the pathogenesis of infectious diseases, autoimmunity, and cancer; and highlight the medical significance of IKK/NF-κB in these diseases. IKK/NF-κB regulates the expression of many genes that encode proteins involved in many crucial biological functions, such as immunity, tissue homeostasis, and fungal/bacterial/viral infections. Also, IKKα plays anti-tumor activities in many organs independently of NF-κB pathways. Thus, an inborn error in one of these gene loci can cause severe human diseases through these complicated mechanisms.
Keywords IKK complex  IKKα  NF‐κB  autoimmunity  carcinogenesis  central tolerance  fungal infection
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DOI 10.1002/bies.201700131
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