Life and death by death receptors

Maria Eugenia Guicciardi, Gregory J. Gores

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

407 Scopus citations


Death receptors are members of the tumor necrosis factor receptor superfamily characterized by a cytoplasmic region known as the "death domain" that enables the receptors to initiate cytotoxic signals when engaged by cognate ligands. Binding to the ligand results in receptor aggregation and recruitment of adaptor proteins, which, in turn, initiates a proteolytic cascade by recruiting and activating initiator caspases 8 and 10. Death receptors were once thought to primarily induce cytotoxic signaling cascades. However, recent data indicate that they initiate multiple signaling pathways, unveiling a number of nonapoptosis-related functions, including regulation of cell proliferation and differentiation, chemokine production, inflammatory responses, and tumor-promoting activities. These noncytotoxic cascades are not simply a manifestation of inhibiting proapoptotic pathways but are intrinsically regulated by adaptor protein and receptor internalization processes. Insights into these various death receptor signaling pathways provide new therapeutic strategies targeting these receptors in pathophysiological processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1625-1637
Number of pages13
JournalFASEB Journal
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2009


  • Bcl-2 family
  • Caspases
  • Fas/CD95/APO1
  • MAP kinases
  • TNF

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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