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J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1997 Dec;100(6 Pt 2):S97-101.

Why do defects in the Fas-Fas ligand system cause autoimmunity?

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Department of Molecular Biology, Osaka Bioscience Institute, Japan.


We have previously isolated genes that encode Fas and Fas ligand, a receptor-ligand pair that mediates an apoptotic signal. We also have demonstrated that lpr and gld mice, well-known animal models of autoimmune disease are loss-of-function mutants of the Fas and Fas ligand genes, respectively. Patients with autoimmune lymphoproliferative disorders have been found to bear mutations of the Fas gene. These findings indicate that the Fas-Fas ligand system plays an important role in the maintenance of self-tolerance among both humans and mice. During T-cell development, mouse T cells initially express Fas in the thymus and maintain their expression thereafter. Peripheral B cells usually express Fas at much lower levels than do T cells, but various stimuli enhance Fas expression on B cells. In contrast, among the lymphocyte subsets, only activated T cells and natural killer cells express readily detectable levels of Fas ligand. Reactivation of previously activated T cells through T-cell receptors induces apoptosis. This phenomenon (activation-induced cell death) is mediated by means of the Fas-Fas ligand interaction. We recently discovered that peripheral naive T cells in mice are susceptible to Fas ligand but not to agonistic anti-Fas antibodies. To our surprise, engagement of T-cell receptors on naive T cells was shown to induce Fas ligand resistance. On the basis of these findings and other reports, we discuss how the breakdown of self-tolerance occurs as the result of defects in the Fas-Fas ligand system.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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