Death Receptor Signaling Giving Life to Ectodermal Organs

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Science's STKE  07 May 2002:
Vol. 2002, Issue 131, pp. pe22
DOI: 10.1126/stke.2002.131.pe22

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A new tumor necrosis factor (TNF) pathway has been identified that has an important function in the regulation of embryonic development. Three key components of this pathway are previously unknown proteins: the TNF ligand ectodysplasin (also known as EDA), its death domain-containing receptor EDAR, and the death domain adapter molecule EDARADD. This pathway was discovered and delineated through the cloning of genes that cause human hypohidrotic ectodermal dysplasia (HED) syndromes and by analysis of the corresponding mouse mutants (Tabby, downless, and crinkled) showing defects in hair, teeth, and several exocrine glands. EDAR signaling is mediated by the activation of nuclear factor kappa B, but other downstream targets are not known. Ectodysplasin-EDAR signaling mediates cell interactions within the ectoderm and regulates the initiation and morphogenesis of hair and teeth. It is also necessary for the development of fish scales, indicating that this pathway and its function have been conserved during the evolution of ectodermal organs.

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