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Fas ligand (TNF superfamily, member 6)
Symbols FASLG; APT1LG1; CD178; CD95L; FASL; TNFSF6
External IDs OMIM134638 MGI99255 HomoloGene533 GeneCards: FASLG Gene
RNA expression pattern
PBB GE FASLG 211333 s at tn.png
PBB GE FASLG 210865 at tn.png
More reference expression data
Species Human Mouse
Entrez 356 14103
Ensembl ENSG00000117560 ENSMUSG00000000817
UniProt P48023 Q544E9
RefSeq (mRNA) NM_000639 NM_010177
RefSeq (protein) NP_000630 NP_034307
Location (UCSC) Chr 1:
170.89 - 170.9 Mb
Chr 1:
163.62 - 163.63 Mb
PubMed search [1] [2]

Fas ligand (FasL or CD95L) is a type-II transmembrane protein that belongs to the tumor necrosis factor (TNF) family. Its binding with its receptor induces apoptosis. Fas ligand/receptor interactions play an important role in the regulation of the immune system and the progression of cancer.



Fas ligand or FasL is a homotrimeric type II transmembrane protein. It signals through trimerization of FasR, which spans the membrane of the "target" cell. This trimerization usually leads to apoptosis, or cell death.

Soluble Fas ligand is generated by cleaving membrane-bound FasL at a conserved cleavage site by the external serine matrix metalloproteinase MMP-7.


  • FasR: The Fas receptor (FasR), or CD95, is the most intensely studied member of the death receptor family. The gene is situated on chromosome 10 in humans and 19 in mice. Previous reports have identified as many as eight splice variants, which are translated into seven isoforms of the protein. Many of these isoforms are rare haplotypes that are usually associated with a state of disease. Apoptosis-inducing Fas receptor is dubbed isoform 1 and is a type 1 transmembrane protein. It consists of three cysteine-rich pseudorepeats, a transmembrane domain, and an intracellular death domain.
  • DcR3: Decoy receptor 3 (DcR3) is a recently discovered decoy receptor of the tumor necrosis factor superfamily that binds to FasL, LIGHT, and TLA1. DcR3 is a soluble receptor that has no signal transduction capabilities (hence a "decoy") and functions to prevent FasR-FasL interactions by competitively binding to membrane-bound Fas ligand and rendering them inactive.[1]

Cell Signaling

Fas forms the Death Inducing Signaling Complex (DISC) upon ligand binding. Membrane-anchored Fas ligand trimer on the surface of an adjacent cell causes trimerization of Fas receptor. This event is also mimicked by binding of an agonistic Fas antibody, though some evidence suggests that the apoptotic signal induced by the antibody is unreliable in the study of Fas signaling. To this end, several clever ways of trimerizing the antibody for in vitro research have been employed. Upon ensuing DD aggregation, the receptor complex is internalized via the cellular endosomal machinery. This allows the adaptor molecule FADD to bind the death domain of Fas through its own death domain. FADD also contains a death effector domain (DED) near its amino terminus, which facilitates binding to the DED of FADD-like ICE (FLICE), more commonly referred to as caspase-8. FLICE can then self-activate through proteolytic cleavage into p10 and p18 subunits, two each of which form the active heterotetramer enzyme. Active caspase-8 is then released from the DISC into the cytosol, where it cleaves other effector caspases, eventually leading to DNA degradation, membrane blebbing, and other hallmarks of apoptosis.

Signaling pathways of Fas. Dashed grey lines represent multiple steps in JNK signaling.

Some reports have suggested that the extrinsic Fas pathway is sufficient to induce complete apoptosis in certain cell types through DISC assembly and subsequent caspase-8 activation. These cells are dubbed Type 1 cells and are characterized by the inability of anti-apoptotic members of the Bcl-2 family (namely Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL) to protect from Fas-mediated apoptosis. Characterized Type 1 cells include H9, CH1, SKW6.4 and SW480, all of which are lymphocyte lineages except the latter, which is a colon adenocarcinoma lineage. However, evidence for crosstalk between the extrinsic and intrinsic pathways exists in the Fas signal cascade. In most cell types, caspase-8 catalyzes the cleavage of the pro-apoptotic BH3-only protein Bid into its truncated form, tBid. BH-3 only members of the Bcl-2 family exclusively engage anti-apoptotic members of the family (Bcl-2, Bcl-xL), allowing Bak and Bax to translocate to the outer mitochondrial membrane, thus permeabilizing it and facilitating release of pro-apoptotic proteins such as cytochrome c and Smac/DIABLO, an antagonist of inhibitors of apoptosis proteins (IAPs).

Soluble FasL is less active than its membrane-bound counterpart and does not induce receptor trimerization and DISC formation.


Apoptosis triggered by Fas-Fas ligand binding plays a fundamental role in the regulation of the immune system. Its functions include:

Overview of signal transduction pathways involved in apoptosis.
  • T-cell homeostasis: the activation of T-cells leads to their expression of the Fas ligand. T cells are initially resistant to Fas-mediated apoptosis during clonal expansion, but become progressively more sensitive the longer they are activated, ultimately resulting in activation-induced cell death (AICD). This process is needed to prevent an excessive immune response and eliminate autoreactive T-cells. Humans and mice with deleterious mutations of Fas or Fas ligand develop an accumulation of aberrant T-cells, leading to lymphadenopathy, splenomegaly, and lupus erythematosus.
  • Immune privilege: Cells in immune privileged areas such as the cornea or testes express Fas ligand and induce the apoptosis of infiltrating lymphocytes. It is one of many mechanisms the body employs in the establishment and maintenance of immune privilege.
  • Maternal tolerance: Fas ligand may be instrumental in the prevention of leukocyte trafficking between the mother and the fetus, although no pregnancy defects have yet been attributed to a faulty Fas-Fas ligand system.
  • Tumor counterattack: Tumors may over-express Fas ligand and induce the apoptosis of infiltrating lymphocytes, allowing the tumor to escape the effects of an immune response.[3] The up-regulation of Fas ligand often occurs following chemotherapy, from which the tumor cells have attained apoptosis resistance.

Role in Disease

Defective Fas mediated apoptosis may lead to oncogenesis as well as drug resistance in existing tumors. Germline mutation of Fas is associated with autoimmune lymphoproliferative syndrome (ALPS), a childhood disorder of apoptosis


Fas ligand has been shown to interact with FADD,[4][5] Grb2,[6][7] Caspase 8,[4][5] Fas receptor,[4][5][8][9] FYN,[7][10] VIL2,[4][11] PACSIN2,[6] FNBP1[6] and TNFRSF6B.[12][13][14]


  1. ^ Sheikh MS, Fornace AJ (2000). "Death and decoy receptors and p53-mediated apoptosis". Leukemia 14 (8): 1509–13. doi:10.1038/sj.leu.2401865. PMID 10942251. 
  2. ^ Andersen MH, Schrama D, Thor Straten P, Becker JC (2006). "Cytotoxic T cells". J. Invest. Dermatol. 126 (1): 32–41. doi:10.1038/sj.jid.5700001. PMID 16417215. 
  3. ^ Igney FH, Krammer PH (2005). "Tumor counterattack: fact or fiction?". Cancer Immunol. Immunother. 54 (11): 1127–36. doi:10.1007/s00262-005-0680-7. PMID 15889255. 
  4. ^ a b c d Gajate, Consuelo; Mollinedo Faustino (Mar. 2005). "Cytoskeleton-mediated death receptor and ligand concentration in lipid rafts forms apoptosis-promoting clusters in cancer chemotherapy". J. Biol. Chem. (United States) 280 (12): 11641–7. doi:10.1074/jbc.M411781200. ISSN 0021-9258. PMID 15659383. 
  5. ^ a b c Micheau, Olivier; Tschopp Jürg (Jul. 2003). "Induction of TNF receptor I-mediated apoptosis via two sequential signaling complexes". Cell (United States) 114 (2): 181–90. ISSN 0092-8674. PMID 12887914. 
  6. ^ a b c Ghadimi, Markus Philipp; Sanzenbacher Ralf, Thiede Bernd, Wenzel Jennifer, Jing Qian, Plomann Markus, Borkhardt Arndt, Kabelitz Dieter, Janssen Ottmar (May. 2002). "Identification of interaction partners of the cytosolic polyproline region of CD95 ligand (CD178)". FEBS Lett. (Netherlands) 519 (1-3): 50–8. ISSN 0014-5793. PMID 12023017. 
  7. ^ a b Wenzel, J; Sanzenbacher R, Ghadimi M, Lewitzky M, Zhou Q, Kaplan D R, Kabelitz D, Feller S M, Janssen O (Dec. 2001). "Multiple interactions of the cytosolic polyproline region of the CD95 ligand: hints for the reverse signal transduction capacity of a death factor". FEBS Lett. (Netherlands) 509 (2): 255–62. ISSN 0014-5793. PMID 11741599. 
  8. ^ Starling, G C; Bajorath J, Emswiler J, Ledbetter J A, Aruffo A, Kiener P A (Apr. 1997). "Identification of amino acid residues important for ligand binding to Fas". J. Exp. Med. (UNITED STATES) 185 (8): 1487–92. ISSN 0022-1007. PMID 9126929. 
  9. ^ Schneider, P; Bodmer J L, Holler N, Mattmann C, Scuderi P, Terskikh A, Peitsch M C, Tschopp J (Jul. 1997). "Characterization of Fas (Apo-1, CD95)-Fas ligand interaction". J. Biol. Chem. (UNITED STATES) 272 (30): 18827–33. ISSN 0021-9258. PMID 9228058. 
  10. ^ Hane, M; Lowin B, Peitsch M, Becker K, Tschopp J (Oct. 1995). "Interaction of peptides derived from the Fas ligand with the Fyn-SH3 domain". FEBS Lett. (NETHERLANDS) 373 (3): 265–8. ISSN 0014-5793. PMID 7589480. 
  11. ^ Parlato, S; Giammarioli A M, Logozzi M, Lozupone F, Matarrese P, Luciani F, Falchi M, Malorni W, Fais S (Oct. 2000). "CD95 (APO-1/Fas) linkage to the actin cytoskeleton through ezrin in human T lymphocytes: a novel regulatory mechanism of the CD95 apoptotic pathway". EMBO J. (ENGLAND) 19 (19): 5123–34. doi:10.1093/emboj/19.19.5123. ISSN 0261-4189. PMID 11013215. 
  12. ^ Yu, K Y; Kwon B, Ni J, Zhai Y, Ebner R, Kwon B S (May. 1999). "A newly identified member of tumor necrosis factor receptor superfamily (TR6) suppresses LIGHT-mediated apoptosis". J. Biol. Chem. (UNITED STATES) 274 (20): 13733–6. ISSN 0021-9258. PMID 10318773. 
  13. ^ Hsu, Tsui-Ling; Chang Yung-Chi, Chen Siu-Ju, Liu Yong-Jun, Chiu Allen W, Chio Chung-Ching, Chen Lieping, Hsieh Shie-Liang (May. 2002). "Modulation of dendritic cell differentiation and maturation by decoy receptor 3". J. Immunol. (United States) 168 (10): 4846–53. ISSN 0022-1767. PMID 11994433. 
  14. ^ Pitti, R M; Marsters S A, Lawrence D A, Roy M, Kischkel F C, Dowd P, Huang A, Donahue C J, Sherwood S W, Baldwin D T, Godowski P J, Wood W I, Gurney A L, Hillan K J, Cohen R L, Goddard A D, Botstein D, Ashkenazi A (Dec. 1998). "Genomic amplification of a decoy receptor for Fas ligand in lung and colon cancer". Nature (ENGLAND) 396 (6712): 699–703. doi:10.1038/25387. ISSN 0028-0836. PMID 9872321. 

Further reading

External links



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