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J Biol Chem. 1996 May 31;271(22):12687-90.

Induction of apoptosis by Apo-2 ligand, a new member of the tumor necrosis factor cytokine family.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Oncology, Genentech, Inc., South San Francisco, California 94080-4990, USA.


Cytokines in the tumor necrosis factor (TNF) family regulate development and function of the immune system. We have isolated a new member of this family, designated Apo-2 ligand (Apo-2L), via an expressed sequence tag. Apo-2L is a 281-amino acid protein, related most closely to Fas/Apo-1 ligand. Transfected Apo-2L is expressed at the cell surface with its C terminus exposed, indicating a type II transmembrane protein topology. Like Fas/Apo-1 ligand and TNF, the C-terminal extracellular region of Apo-2L (amino acids 114-281) exhibits a homotrimeric subunit structure. Soluble Apo-2L induces extensive apoptosis in lymphoid as well as non-lymphoid tumor cell lines. The effect of Apo-2L is not inhibited by soluble Fas/Apo-1 and TNF receptors; moreover, expression of human Fas/Apo-1 in mouse fibroblasts, which confers sensitivity to induction of apoptosis by agonistic anti-Fas/Apo-1 antibody, does not confer sensitivity to Apo-2L. Hence, Apo-2L acts via a receptor which is distinct from Fas/Apo-1 and TNF receptors. These results suggest that, along with other family members such as Fas/Apo-1 ligand and TNF, Apo-2L may serve as an extracellular signal that triggers programmed cell death.

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