TLRs (Toll-like receptors) are an important class of pathogen-sensing proteins, which signal the presence of a pathogen by activating transcription factors, such as NF-κB (nuclear factor κB). The TLR pathway to NF-κB activation involves multiple phosphorylation and ubiquitination events. Notably, TRAF-6 [TNF (tumour necrosis factor)-receptor-associated factor-6] Lys63 polyubiquitination is a critical step in the formation of signalling complexes, which turn on NF-κB. Here, the relative role of different IRAKs [IL-1 (interleukin 1)-receptor-associated kinases] in NF-κB activation is discussed. Further, I demonstrate how understanding one molecular mechanism whereby vaccinia virus inhibits NF-κB activation has led to a revealing of a key role for IRAK-2 in TRAF-6-mediated NF-κB activation.

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