rel/nf-κB genes are amplified, overexpressed, or constitutively activated in many human hematopoietic tumors; however, the molecular mechanisms by which they contribute to tumorigenesis remain to be determined. Here, we explored the oncogenic potential of cellular Rel/ NF-κB proteins in vitro and in vivo. We show that overexpression of wild-type mouse and human c-rel genes suffices to malignantly transform primary spleen cells in stringent soft agar assays and produce fatal tumors in vivo. In contrast relA and a constitutively active form of IKKβ did not. Importantly, a hybrid RelA protein with its C-terminal transactivation domain substituted by that of v-Rel was potently oncogenic in vitro and in vivo. The transactivation domain of v-Rel selectively conferred an oncogenic phenotype upon the Rel homology domain (RHD) of RelA, but not to the more divergent RHDs of p50/NF-κB1, p52/NF-κB2, or RelB. Collectively, our results highlight important differences in the intrinsic oncogenic activity of mammalian c-Rel and RelA proteins, and indicate that critical determinants of their differential oncogenicity reside in their divergent transactivation domains. These findings provide experimental evidence for a role of mammalian Rel/NF-κB factors in leukemia/ lymphomagenesis in an in vivo animal model, and are consistent with the implication of c-rel in many human lymphomas.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Cancer Research