Characterization of the core elements of the NF-κB signaling pathway of the sea anemone Nematostella vectensis

Francis S. Wolenski, Michael R. Garbati, Tristan J. Lubinski, Nikki Traylor-Knowles, Erica Dresselhaus, Derek J. Stefanik, Haley Goucher, John R. Finnerty, Thomas D. Gilmore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


The sea anemone Nematostella vectensis is the leading developmental and genomic model for the phylum Cnidaria, which includes anemones, hydras, jellyfish, and corals. In insects and vertebrates, the NF-κB pathway is required for cellular and organismal responses to various stresses, including pathogens and chemicals, as well as for several developmental processes. Herein, we have characterized proteins that comprise the core NF-κB pathway in Nematostella, including homologs of NF-κB, IκB, Bcl-3, and IκB kinase (IKK). We show that N. vectensis NF-κB (Nv-NF-κB) can bind to κB sites and activate transcription of reporter genes containing multimeric κB sites or the Nv-IκB promoter. Both Nv-IκB and Nv-Bcl-3 interact with Nv-NF-κB and block its ability to activate reporter gene expression. Nv-IKK is most similar to human IKKε/TBK kinases and, in vitro, can phosphorylate Ser47 of Nv-IκB. Nv-NF-κB is expressed in a subset of ectodermal cells in juvenile and adult Nematostella anemones. A bioinformatic analysis suggests that homologs of many mammalian NF-κB target genes are targets for Nv-NF-κB, including genes involved in apoptosis and responses to organic compounds and endogenous stimuli. These results indicate that NF-κB pathway proteins in Nematostella are similar to their vertebrate homologs, and these results also provide a framework for understanding the evolutionary origins of NF-κB signaling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1076-1087
Number of pages12
JournalMolecular and cellular biology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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