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J Leukoc Biol. 1998 Jun;63(6):678-82.

Distinct adapter proteins mediate acid versus neutral sphingomyelinase activation through the p55 receptor for tumor necrosis factor.

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Institut für Immunologie, Christian-Albrechts-Universität Kiel, Germany.


Ceramide, generated by the enzymatic function of sphingomyelinases (SMases) has emerged as an important signaling pathway transducing diverse biological effects of various cytokine receptors. The 55-kDa receptor for tumor necrosis factor (TNF-R55) activates two types of SMases through distinct cytoplasmic domains. The death domain that is responsible for the initiation of the apoptotic pathway also signals for the activation of an acid SMase (A-SMase). The adapter protein TRADD binds to TNF-R55 in a ligand-dependent manner and serves as anchor for the subsequent recruitment of other proteins into the signaling complex that directly lead to cell death or nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB) induction. Notably, the two pro-apoptotic adapter proteins TRADD and FADD are also involved in the activation of A-SMase. In contrast, the NF-kappaB-inducing adapters TRAF2 and RIP do not signal for A-SMase. Thus, activation of A-SMase appears to belong to signals leading to TNF-induced cell death. A second signaling domain (NSD) is located upstream of the death domain and directly links the TNF-R55 to the activation of a neutral SMase (N-SMase). A novel adapter protein, FAN, has been identified that specifically binds to the NSD. FAN contains five WD repeats at its carboxy terminus, while it shows significant sequence homology with the mouse beige protein and its human homolog, the CHS protein, in the center portion of the protein. Overexpression of full-length FAN enhanced N-SMase activity in TNF-treated cells, whereas truncated mutants of FAN produced dominant negative effects. FAN, however, did not interfere with any of the TNF responses signaled for by the death domain. Taken together, our data suggest that distinct cytoplasmic domains of TNF-R55 initiate independent signaling pathways by binding different adapter proteins.

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