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A DNA probe that spanned a domain conserved among the proto-oncogene c-rel, the Drosophila morphogen dorsal, and the p50 DNA binding subunit of NF-kappa B was generated from Jurkat T cell complementary DNA with the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and degenerate oligonucleotides. This probe was used to identify a rel-related complementary DNA that hybridized to a 2.6-kilobase messenger RNA present in human T and B lymphocytes. In vitro transcription and translation of the complementary DNA resulted in the synthesis of a protein with an apparent molecular size of 65 kilodaltons (kD). The translated protein showed weak DNA binding with a specificity for the kappa B binding motif. This protein-DNA complex comigrated with the complex obtained with the purified human p65 NF-kappa B subunit and binding was inhibited by I kappa B-alpha and -beta proteins. In addition, the 65-kD protein associated with the p50 subunit of NF-kappa B and the kappa B probe to form a complex with the same electrophoretic mobility as the NF-kappa B-DNA complex. Therefore the rel-related 65-kD protein may represent the p65 subunit of the active NF-kappa B transcription factor complex.

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