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Cell Mol Life Sci. 2004 Dec;61(24):3087-92.

TRAF4 functions as an intermediate of GITR-induced NF-kappaB activation.

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School of Medicine, Departments of Medicine and Pathology and Immunology, Washington University, 660 S. Euclid Avenue, Campus Box 8052, Saint Louis, Missouri 63110, USA.


Members of the tumor necrosis factor receptor (TNFR) family regulate the activation, differentiation, and function of many cell types, including cells of the immune system. TNFR-associated factors (TRAFs) function as adapter molecules controlling signaling pathways triggered by TNFR family members, such as activation of nuclear factor kappaB (NF-kappaB). Despite intensive research, the function of TRAF4 in signaling pathways triggered by TNFR-related proteins remains enigmatic. Intriguingly, our functional studies indicated that TRAF4 augments NF-kappaB activation triggered by glucocorticoid-induced TNFR (GITR), a receptor expressed on T cells, B cells, and macrophages. Further analyses revealed that TRAF4-mediated NF-kappaB activation downstream of GITR depends on a previously mapped TRAF-binding site in the cytoplasmic domain of the receptor and is inhibited by the cytoplasmic protein A20. GITR is thought to inhibit the suppressive function of regulatory T cells (Treg cells) and to promote activation of T cells. Taken together, our studies provide the first indications that TRAF4 elaborates GITR signaling and suggest that TRAF4 can modulate the suppressive functions of Treg cells.

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