Editors' ChoiceApoptosis

Apoptosis: Lifeguard to Save Neurons from Fas?

Science's STKE  09 Nov 1999:
Vol. 1999, Issue 7, pp. tw5
DOI: 10.1126/stke.1999.7.tw5

In a screen for proteins that could protect cells from apoptosis induced though Fas (a member of the tumor necrosis factor receptor family also called CD95 or Apo-1), Somia et al. identified a gene that encodes a protein they call lifeguard (LFG). LFG appears to be a seven-transmembrane spanning protein. It has similarity to a glutamate--binding protein from rat and the Drosophila NMDA receptor--associated protein and is abundant in the hippocampus. LFG is the human homolog of a protein from rat called neural membrane protein 35, which is highly expressed in the nervous system during postnatal development. Ectopic expression of LFG protected HeLa cells from apoptosis-induced by Fas, but not that induced through the tumor necrosis factor receptor. The mechanism by which LFG functions is not known, but it does not decrease expression of Fas or inhibit binding of the adapter molecule FADD to the receptor. The authors speculate that LFG could have a role in protecting brain cells from Fas-induced cell death.

Somia, N.V., Schmitt, M.J., Vetter, D.E., Van Antwerp, D., Heinemann, S.F., and Verma, I.M.(1999) LFG: An anti-apoptotic gene that provides protection from Fas-mediated cell death. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 96: 12667-12672. [Abstract] [Full Text]