IκB kinase/nuclear [corrected] factor κB (IKK/NF-κB) signaling exhibits important yet opposing functions in hepatocarcinogenesis. Mice lacking NEMO in liver parenchymal cells (LPC) spontaneously develop steatohepatitis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) suggesting that NF-κB prevents liver disease and cancer. Here, we show that complete NF-κB inhibition by combined LPC-specific ablation of RelA, c-Rel, and RelB did not phenocopy NEMO deficiency, but constitutively active IKK2-mediated NF-κB activation prevented hepatocellular damage and HCC in NEMO(LPC-KO) mice. Knock-in expression of kinase inactive receptor-interacting protein kinase 1 (RIPK1) prevented hepatocyte apoptosis and HCC, while RIPK1 ablation induced TNFR1-associated death domain protein (TRADD)-dependent hepatocyte apoptosis and liver tumors in NEMO(LPC-KO) mice, revealing distinct kinase-dependent and scaffolding functions of RIPK1. Collectively, these results show that NEMO prevents hepatocarcinogenesis by inhibiting RIPK1 kinase activity-driven hepatocyte apoptosis through NF-κB-dependent and -independent functions.
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