Inhibition of transcription factor NF-kappa B by sesquiterpene lactones: a proposed molecular mechanism of action Artículo académico uri icon


  • Many sesquiterpene lactones (SLs) possess considerable anti-inflammatory activity. They inhibit the transcription factor NF-κB by selectively alkylating its p65 subunit probably by reacting with cysteine residues. Here we assayed 28 sesquiterpene lactones for their ability to inhibit NF-κB. The majority of the potent NF-κB inhibitors possess two reactive centers in form of an α-methylene-γ-lactone group and an α,β- or α,β,γ,δ-unsaturated carbonyl group. Based on computer molecular modelling we propose a molecular mechanism of action, which is able to explain the p65 selectivity of the SLs and the observed correlation of high activity with alkylant bifunctionality. A single bifunctional SL molecule can alkylate the cysteine residue (Cys 38) in the DNA binding loop 1 (L1) and a further cysteine (Cys 120) in the nearby E’ region. This cross link alters the position of tyrosine 36 and additional amino acids in such a way that their specific interactions with the DNA become impossible. We also created a model for monofunctional SLs.

fecha de publicación

  • 1999