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Transpl Int. 2000;13 Suppl 1:S3-6.

Intracellular mediators of programmed cell death initiated at the cell surface receptor Fas.

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Department of Experimental Medicine and Biochemical Sciences, University of Rome Tor Vergata, Italy.


Apoptosis is a programmed cell death process, which plays a pivotal role in development, in tissue homeostasis and in several human diseases. Fas (CD95/Apo-1) is a member of the "death receptors" family, a group of cell surface proteins that trigger apoptosis upon binding with their natural ligands. In the immune system, intracellular signal transduction triggered from Fas splits into two different pathways. The proteolytic pathway is mediated by a family of cysteine proteases, the caspases, responsible for the morphological changes occurring in the apoptotic process. To complete this death program, another series of events, involving a lipid pathway, is necessary. Upon Fas stimulation, a sequential activation of specific enzymes results in the accumulation of ceramides and GD3 ganglioside. GD3 directly induces mitochondrial damage and triggers the release of apoptogenic factors, allowing efficient execution of Fas-mediated apoptosis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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