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Endocrinology. 1998 Dec;139(12):4839-48.

DEFT, a novel death effector domain-containing molecule predominantly expressed in testicular germ cells.

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  • 1Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Stanford University School of Medicine, California 94305-5317, USA.


Apoptosis is a physiological process by which multicellular organisms eliminate unwanted cells. Death factors such as Fas ligand induce apoptosis by triggering a series of intracellular protein-protein interactions mediated by defined motifs found in the signaling molecules. One of these motifs is the death effector domain (DED), a stretch of about 80 amino acids that is shared by adaptors, regulators, and executors of the death factor pathway. We have identified the human and rat complementary DNAs encoding a novel protein termed DEFT (Death EFfector domain-containing Testicular molecule). The N-terminus of DEFT shows a high degree of homology to the DEDs found in FADD (an adaptor molecule) as well as procaspase-8/FLICE and procaspase-10/Mch4 (executors of the death program). Northern blot hybridization experiments have shown that the DEFT messenger RNA (mRNA) is expressed in a variety of human and rat tissues, with particularly abundant expression in the testis. In situ hybridization analysis further indicated the expression of DEFT mRNA in meiotic male germ cells. In a model of germ cell apoptosis induction, an increase in testis DEFT mRNA was found in immature rats after 2 days of treatment with a GnRH antagonist. Unlike FADD and procaspase-8/FLICE, overexpression of DEFT did not induce apoptosis in Chinese hamster ovary cells. Although cotransfection studies indicated that DEFT is incapable of modulating apoptosis effected by FADD and procaspase-8/FLICE, interactions between DEFT and uncharacterized DED-containing molecules in the testis remain to be studied in the future. In conclusion, we have identified a novel DED-containing protein with high expression in testis germ cells. This protein may be important in the regulation of death factor-induced apoptosis in the testis and other tissues.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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