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EMBO J. 1997 Mar 3;16(5):1080-92.

Tumor necrosis factor alpha-induced activation of c-jun N-terminal kinase is mediated by TRAF2.

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Chiron Corporation, Emeryville, CA 94608, USA.


Tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF alpha) a pro-inflammatory cytokine is an endogenous mediator of septic shock, inflammation, anti-viral responses and apoptotic cell death. TNF alpha elicits its complex biological responses through the individual or cooperative action of two TNF receptors of mol. wt 55 kDa (TNF-RI) and mol. wt 75 kDa (TNF-RII). To determine signaling events specific for TNF-RII we fused the extracellular domain of the mouse CD4 antigen to the intracellular domain of TNF-RII. Crosslinking of the chimeric receptor using anti-CD4 antibodies initiates exclusively TNF-RII-mediated signals. Our findings show that: (i) TNF-RII is able to activate two members of the MAP kinase family: extracellular regulated kinase (ERK) and c-jun N-terminal kinase (JNK); (ii) TRAF2, a molecule that binds TNF-RII and associates indirectly with TNF-RI, is sufficient to activate JNK upon overexpression; (iii) dominant-negative TRAF2 blocks TNF alpha-mediated JNK activation and (iv) TRAF2 signals the activation of JNK and NF-kappaB through different pathways. Our findings suggest that TNF alpha-mediated JNK activation in fibroblasts is independent of the cell death pathway and that TRAF2 occupies a key role in TNF receptor signaling to JNK.

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