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The I kappaB alpha protein is a key molecular target involved in the control of NF-kappaB/Rel transcription factors during viral infection or inflammatory reactions. This NF-kappaB-inhibitory factor is regulated by posttranslational phosphorylation and ubiquitination of its amino-terminal signal response domain that targets I kappaB alpha for rapid proteolysis by the 26S proteasome. In an attempt to identify regulators of the I kappaB alpha inhibitory activity, we undertook a yeast two-hybrid genetic screen, using the amino-terminal end of I kappaB alpha as bait, and identified 12 independent interacting clones. Sequence analysis identified some of these cDNA clones as Dlc-1, a sequence encoding a small, 9-kDa human homolog of the outer-arm dynein light-chain protein. In the two-hybrid assay, Dlc-1 also interacted with full-length I kappaB alpha protein but not with N-terminal-deletion-containing versions of I kappaB alpha. I kappaB alpha interacted in vitro with a glutathione S-transferase-Dlc-1 fusion protein, and RelA(p65) did not displace this association, demonstrating that p65 and Dlc-1 contact different protein motifs of I kappaB alpha. Importantly, in HeLa and 293 cells, endogenous and transfected I kappaB alpha coimmunoprecipitated with Myc-tagged or endogenous Dlc-1. Indirect immunofluorescence analyzed by confocal microscopy indicated that Dlc-1 and I kappaB alpha colocalized with both nuclear and cytoplasmic distribution. Furthermore, Dlc-1 and I kappaB alpha were found to associate with the microtubule organizing center, a perinuclear region from which microtubules radiate. Likewise, I kappaB alpha colocalized with alpha-tubulin filaments. Taken together, these results highlight an intriguing interaction between the I kappaB alpha protein and the human homolog of a member of the dynein family of motor proteins and provide a potential link between cytoskeleton dynamics and gene regulation.