Research ArticleCell Biology

c-FLIP Maintains Tissue Homeostasis by Preventing Apoptosis and Programmed Necrosis

Science Signaling  18 Dec 2012:
Vol. 5, Issue 255, pp. ra93
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2003558

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As a catalytically inactive homolog of caspase-8, a proapoptotic initiator caspase, c-FLIP blocks apoptosis by binding to and inhibiting caspase-8. The transcription factor nuclear factor κB (NF-κB) plays a pivotal role in maintaining the homeostasis of the intestine and the liver by preventing death receptor–induced apoptosis, and c-FLIP plays a role in the NF-κB–dependent protection of cells from death receptor signaling. Because c-Flip–deficient mice die in utero, we generated conditional c-Flip–deficient mice to investigate the contribution of c-FLIP to homeostasis of the intestine and the liver at developmental and postnatal stages. Intestinal epithelial cell (IEC)– or hepatocyte-specific deletion of c-Flip resulted in perinatal lethality as a result of the enhanced apoptosis and programmed necrosis of the IECs and the hepatocytes. Deficiency in the gene encoding tumor necrosis factor–α (TNF-α) receptor 1 (Tnfr1) partially rescued perinatal lethality and the development of colitis in IEC-specific c-Flip–deficient mice but did not rescue perinatal lethality in hepatocyte-specific c-Flip–deficient mice. Moreover, adult mice with interferon (IFN)–inducible deficiency in c-Flip died from hepatitis soon after depletion of c-FLIP. Pretreatment of IFN-inducible c-Flip–deficient mice with a mixture of neutralizing antibodies against TNF-α, Fas ligand (FasL), and TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) prevented hepatitis. Together, these results suggest that c-FLIP controls the homeostasis of IECs and hepatocytes by preventing cell death induced by TNF-α, FasL, and TRAIL.

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