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Eur J Immunol. 1998 Jan;28(1):143-52.

TRAIL/Apo-2-ligand-induced apoptosis in human T cells.

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Division of Molecular Oncology/Pediatrics, German Cancer Research Center, Heidelberg.


Members of the tumor necrosis factor (TNF) family such as CD95 (APO-1/Fas) ligand (L) trigger apoptosis in lymphoid cells. Recently, a new member of apoptosis-inducing ligands, TRAIL (TNF-related-apoptosis-inducing-ligand)/Apo-2 ligand, was identified that might act in a similar way. We compared TRAIL and CD95L-induced apoptosis in human lymphoid cells. Expression of TRAIL was found in CD4+ and CD8 T cells following activation, suggesting that TRAIL participates in T cell-mediated induction of apoptosis. Similar to CD95L, TRAIL-induced apoptosis in target cells is mediated by activation of caspases (ICE/Ced-3 proteases). However, different human lymphoid cell lines and peripheral T cells differ in sensitivity towards induction of apoptosis by TRAIL and CD95L. In addition, T cells are highly sensitive towards CD95L-induced apoptosis after prolonged activation in vitro, but remain completely resistant to TRAIL-induced apoptosis. In contrast, T cells from HIV-1-infected patients previously shown to exhibit increased CD95 sensitivity are even more susceptible towards TRAIL-induced cell death. These data suggest that TRAIL might participate in CD95-independent apoptosis of lymphoid cells and might be involved in deregulated apoptosis in diseases such as leukemias and HIV-1 infection.

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