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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Sep 13;108(37):15312-7. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1102779108. Epub 2011 Aug 29.

Complementary roles of Fas-associated death domain (FADD) and receptor interacting protein kinase-3 (RIPK3) in T-cell homeostasis and antiviral immunity.

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Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, Institute for Immunology, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697, USA.


Caspase-8 (casp8) is required for extrinsic apoptosis, and mice deficient in casp8 fail to develop and die in utero while ultimately failing to maintain the proliferation of T cells, B cells, and a host of other cell types. Paradoxically, these failures are not caused by a defect in apoptosis, but by a presumed proliferative function of this protease. Indeed, following mitogenic stimulation, T cells lacking casp8 or its adaptor protein FADD (Fas-associated death domain protein) develop a hyperautophagic morphology, and die a programmed necrosis-like death process termed necroptosis. Recent studies have demonstrated that receptor-interacting protein kinases (RIPKs) RIPK1 and RIPK3 together facilitate TNF-induced necroptosis, but the precise role of RIPKs in the demise of T cells lacking FADD or casp8 activity is unknown. Here we demonstrate that RIPK3 and FADD have opposing and complementary roles in promoting T-cell clonal expansion and homeostasis. We show that the defective proliferation of T cells bearing an interfering form of FADD (FADDdd) is rescued by crossing with RIPK3(-/-) mice, although such rescue ultimately leads to lymphadenopathy. Enhanced recovery of these double-mutant T cells following stimulation demonstrates that FADD, casp8, and RIPK3 are all essential for clonal expansion, contraction, and antiviral responses. Finally, we demonstrate that caspase-mediated cleavage of RIPK1-containing necrosis inducing complexes (necrosomes) is sufficient to prevent necroptosis in the face of death receptor signaling. These studies highlight the "two-faced" nature of casp8 activity, promoting clonal expansion in some situations and apoptotic demise in others.

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