Membrane-bound Fas ligand only is essential for Fas-induced apoptosis

Lorraine A. O Reilly, Lin Tai, Lily Lee, Elizabeth A. Kruse, Stephanie Grabow, W. Douglas Fairlie, Nicole M. Haynes, David M. Tarlinton, Jian Guo Zhang, Gabrielle T. Belz, Mark J. Smyth, Philippe Bouillet, Lorraine Robb, Andreas Strasser

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309 Citations (Scopus)


Fas ligand (FasL), an apoptosis-inducing member of the TNF cytokine family, and its receptor Fas are critical for the shutdown of chronic immune responses and prevention of autoimmunity. Accordingly, mutations in their genes cause severe lymphadenopathy and autoimmune disease in mice and humans. FasL function is regulated by deposition in the plasma membrane and metalloprotease-mediated shedding. Here we generated gene-targeted mice that selectively lack either secreted FasL (sFasL) or membrane-bound FasL (mFasL) to resolve which of these forms is required for cell killing and to explore their hypothesized non-apoptotic activities. Mice lacking sFasL (FasL Δs/Δs) appeared normal and their T cells readily killed target cells, whereas T cells lacking mFasL (FasL Δm/Δm) could not kill cells through Fas activation. FasL Δm/Δm mice developed lymphadenopathy and hyper-gammaglobulinaemia, similar to FasL gld/gld mice, which express a mutant form of FasL that cannot bind Fas, but surprisingly, FasL Δm/Δm mice (on a C57BL/6 background) succumbed to systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)-like autoimmune kidney destruction and histiocytic sarcoma, diseases that occur only rarely and much later in FasL gld/gld mice. These results demonstrate that mFasL is essential for cytotoxic activity and constitutes the guardian against lymphadenopathy, autoimmunity and cancer, whereas excess sFasL appears to promote autoimmunity and tumorigenesis through non-apoptotic activities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)659-663
Number of pages5
Issue number7264
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2009

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