We report here that both kappa B-dependent transactivation of a reporter gene and NF-kappa B activation in response to tumor necrosis factor (TNF alpha) or H2O2 treatments are deficient in human T47D cell transfectants that overexpress seleno-glutathione peroxidase (GSHPx). These cells feature low reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels and decreased intracellular ROS burst in response to TNF alpha treatment. Decreased ROS levels and NF-kappa B activation were likely to result from GSHPx increment since these phenomena were no longer observed when GSHPx activity was reduced by selenium depletion. The cellular contents of the two NF-kappa B subunits (p65 and p50) and of the inhibitory subunit I kappa B-alpha were unaffected by GSHPx overexpression, suggesting that increased GSHPx activity interfered with the activation, but not the synthesis or stability, of Nf-kappa B. Nuclear translocation of NF-kappa B as well as I kappa B-alpha degradation were inhabited in GSHPx-overexpressing cells exposed to oxidative stress. Moreover, in control T47D cells exposed to TNF alpha, a time correlation was observed between elevated ROS levels and I kappa B-alpha degradation. We also show that, in growing T47D cells, GSHPx overexpression altered the isoform composition of I kappa B-alpha, leading to the accumulation of the more basic isoform of this protein. GSHPx overexpression also abolished the TNF alpha-mediated transient accumulation of the acidic and highly phosphorylated I kappa B-alpha isoform. These results suggest that intracellular ROS are key elements that regulate the phosphorylation of I kappa B-alpha, a phenomenon that precedes and controls the degradation of this protein, and then NF-kappa B activation.

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