Aims/hypothesis: For beta cells, contact with TNF-a triggers signalling cascades that converge on pathways important for cell survival and inflammation, specifically nuclear factor ?B (NF-?B), c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase pathways. Here, we investigated the function of baculoviral inhibitors of apoptosis repeat containing (BIRC) proteins in regulating TNF signalling cascades. Methods: TNF regulation of Birc genes was studied by mRNA expression and promoter analysis. Birc gene control of cell signalling was studied in beta cell lines, and in islets from Birc2 -/- and Birc3 -/- mice, and from Birc3 -/- Birc2? beta cell mice that selectively lack Birc2 and Birc3 (double knockout [DKO]). Islet function was tested by intraperitoneal glucose tolerance test and transplantation. Results: TNF-a selectively induced Birc3 in beta cells, which in turn was sufficient to drive and potentiate NF-?B reporter activity. Conversely, Birc3 -/- islets exhibited delayed TNF-a-induced I?Ba degradation with reduced expression of Ccl2 and Cxcl10. DKO islets showed a further delay in I?Ba degradation kinetics. Surprisingly, DKO islets exhibited stimulus-independent and TNF-dependent hyperexpression of TNF target genes A20 (also known as Tnfaip3), Icam1, Ccl2 and Cxcl10. DKO islets showed hyperphosphorylation of the JNK-substrate, c-Jun, while a JNK-antagonist prevented increases of Icam1, Ccl2 and Cxcl10 expression. Proteosome blockade of MIN6 cells phenocopied DKO islets. DKO islets showed more rapid loss of glucose homeostasis when challenged with the inflammatory insult of transplantation. Conclusions/interpretation: BIRC3 provides a feed-forward loop, which, with BIRC2, is required to moderate the normal speed of NF-?B activation. Paradoxically, BIRC2 and BIRC3 act as a molecular brake to rein in activation of the JNK signalling pathway. Thus BIRC2 and BIRC3 fine-tune NF-?B and JNK signalling to ensure transcriptional responses are appropriately matched to extracellular inputs. This control is critical for the beta cell s stress response. ? 2012 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.