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J Mol Biol. 2002 Feb 1;315(5):1145-54.

Crystal structure of extracellular human BAFF, a TNF family member that stimulates B lymphocytes.

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Biogen, Inc., 14 Cambridge Center, Cambridge, MA 02142, USA.


B cell activating factor (BAFF), a ligand belonging to the tumor necrosis factor (TNF) family, plays a critical role in regulating survival and activation of peripheral B cell populations and has been associated with autoimmune disease. BAFF is known to interact with three receptors, BCMA, TACI and BAFF-R, that have distant similarities with other receptors of the TNF family. We have determined the crystal structure of the TNF-homologous domain of BAFF at 2.8 A resolution. The structure reveals significant differences when compared to other TNF family members, including an unusually long D-E loop that participates in the formation of a deep, concave and negatively charged region in the putative receptor binding site. The BAFF structure was further used to generate a homology model of APRIL, a closely related TNF family ligand that also binds to BCMA and TACI, but not BAFF-R. Analysis of the putative receptor binding sites of BAFF and APRIL suggests that differences in the D-E loop structure and electrostatic surface potentials may be important for determining binding specificities for BCMA, TACI and BAFF-R.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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