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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Oct 15, 1991; 88(20): 9292–9296.
PMCID: PMC52700

The two different receptors for tumor necrosis factor mediate distinct cellular responses.

Abstract

The individual roles of the murine type 1 and type 2 tumor necrosis factor (TNF) receptors (TNF-R1 and TNF-R2) were investigated utilizing (i) the strong species specificity of TNF-R2 for murine TNF compared to human TNF and (ii) agonistic rabbit polyclonal antibodies directed against the individual TNF receptors. Proliferation of mouse thymocytes and the murine cytotoxic T-cell line CT-6 is stimulated by murine TNF but not by human TNF. Consistent with this observation, polyclonal antibodies directed against TNF-R2 induced proliferation in both of these cell types, whereas polyclonal antibodies directed against TNF-R1 had no effect. In contrast, cytotoxicity in murine LM cells (which are sensitive to murine and human TNF) was induced by antibodies against TNF-R1 but not by antibodies against TNF-R2. Also, the steady-state level of manganous superoxide dismutase mRNA in the murine NIH 3T3 cell line was induced by murine TNF, human TNF, and anti-TNF-R1 but not by anti-TNF-R2. These results suggest that TNF-R2 initiates signals for the proliferation of thymocytes and cytotoxic T cells, whereas TNF-R1 initiates signals for cytotoxicity and the induction of the protective activity, manganous superoxide dismutase. The nonredundant signaling observed for the two TNF receptors cannot be explained simply by the differential expression of the two TNF receptors in the various cell types, because LM cells express on their surface higher levels of TNF-R2 than TNF-R1, and LM cells, NIH 3T3 cells, and thymus cells all express mRNA corresponding to both receptor types. It is therefore likely that the two receptors initiate distinct signaling pathways that result in the induction of different cellular responses.

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