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J Biol Chem. 1998 Aug 7;273(32):20551-5.

Characterization of the intracellular domain of receptor activator of NF-kappaB (RANK). Interaction with tumor necrosis factor receptor-associated factors and activation of NF-kappab and c-Jun N-terminal kinase.

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  • 1Cytokine Research Laboratory, Department of Molecular Oncology, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.


Various members of the tumor necrosis factor (TNF) receptor superfamily interact directly with signaling molecules of the TNF receptor-associated factor (TRAF) family to activate nuclear factor kappaB (NF-kappaB) and the c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) pathway. The receptor activator of NF-kappaB (RANK), a recently described TNF receptor family member, and its ligand, RANKL, promote survival of dendritic cells and differentiation of osteoclasts. RANK contains 383 amino acids in its intracellular domain (residues 234-616), which contain three putative TRAF-binding domains (termed I, II, and III). In this study, we set out to identify the region of RANK needed for interaction with TRAF molecules and for stimulation of NF-kappaB and JNK activity. We constructed epitope-tagged RANK (F-RANK616) and three C-terminal truncations, F-RANK330, F-RANK427, and F-RANK530, lacking 85, 188, and 285 amino acids, respectively. From this deletion analysis, we determined that TRAF2, TRAF5, and TRAF6 interact with RANK at its C-terminal 85-amino acid tail; the binding affinity appeared to be in the order of TRAF2 > TRAF5 > TRAF6. Furthermore, overexpression of RANK stimulated JNK and NF-kappaB activation. When the C-terminal tail, which is necessary for TRAF binding, was deleted, the truncated RANK receptor was still capable of stimulating JNK activity but not NF-kappaB, suggesting that interaction with TRAFs is necessary for NF-kappaB activation but not necessary for activation of the JNK pathway.

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