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J Cell Biol. 2010 Aug 9;190(3):377-89. doi: 10.1083/jcb.201002060.

Model-based dissection of CD95 signaling dynamics reveals both a pro- and antiapoptotic role of c-FLIPL.

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Division of Immunogenetics, German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), 69120 Heidelberg, Germany.


Cellular FADD-like interleukin-1beta-converting enzyme inhibitory proteins (c-FLIPs; isoforms c-FLIP long [c-FLIP(L)], c-FLIP short [c-FLIP(S)], and c-FLIP Raji [c-FLIP(R)]) regulate caspase-8 activation and death receptor (DR)-induced apoptosis. In this study, using a combination of mathematical modeling, imaging, and quantitative Western blots, we present a new mathematical model describing caspase-8 activation in quantitative terms, which highlights the influence of c-FLIP proteins on this process directly at the CD95 death-inducing signaling complex. We quantitatively define how the stoichiometry of c-FLIP proteins determines sensitivity toward CD95-induced apoptosis. We show that c-FLIP(L) has a proapoptotic role only upon moderate expression in combination with strong receptor stimulation or in the presence of high amounts of one of the short c-FLIP isoforms, c-FLIP(S) or c-FLIP(R). Our findings resolve the present controversial discussion on the function of c-FLIP(L) as a pro- or antiapoptotic protein in DR-mediated apoptosis and are important for understanding the regulation of CD95-induced apoptosis, where subtle differences in c-FLIP concentrations determine life or death of the cells.

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