Research ArticleBiochemistry

Solution of the Structure of the TNF-TNFR2 Complex

Science Signaling  16 Nov 2010:
Vol. 3, Issue 148, pp. ra83
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2000954

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Structural Differences

The proinflammatory cytokine tumor necrosis factor (TNF) functions in the immune response; however, TNF also plays a pathophysiological role in diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease. The effects of TNF are mediated by TNF receptor 1 (TNFR1) and TNFR2; whereas TNFR1 is ubiquitously expressed, TNFR2 is mostly restricted to cells of the immune system. Currently available therapies that block TNF include monoclonal antibodies against TNF and a soluble form of TNFR2; however, these therapies can result in serious side effects, some of which may be due to their nonselective effects. Here, Mukai et al. solved the structure of TNF in complex with TNFR2 and found differences between the ligand-binding interface of TNFR2 and that of TNFR1, whose structure is known. The authors also observed the formation of TNF-TNFR2 aggregates on the surface of transfected cells, which may be required for signal initiation. Solution of the TNFR2 structure may aid in the development of receptor-specific therapies.