Biochemical and biophysical research communications

RELT family members activate p38 and induce apoptosis by a mechanism distinct from TNFR1.

PMID 28688764


Receptor Expressed in Lymphoid Tissues (RELT) is a human Tumor Necrosis Factor Receptor (TNFR) family member that has two identified homologous binding partners, RELL1 and RELL2. This study sought to further understand the pattern of RELT expression, the functional role of RELT family members, and the mechanism of RELT-induced apoptosis. RELT protein expression was detected in the spleen, lymph node, brain, breast and peripheral blood leukocytes (PBLs). A smaller than expected size of RELT was observed in PBLs, suggesting a proteolytically cleaved form of RELT. RELL1 and RELL2 overexpression activated the p38 MAPK pathway more substantially than RELT in HEK-293 cells, and this activation of p38 by RELT family members was blocked by dominant-negative mutant forms of OSR1 or TRAF2, implicating these molecules in RELT family member signaling. RELT was previously shown to induce apoptosis in human epithelial cells despite lacking the characteristic death domain (DD) found in other TNFRs. Seven deletion mutants of RELT that lacked differing portions of the intracellular domain were created to assess whether RELT possesses a novel DD. None of the deletion mutants induced apoptosis as efficiently as full-length RELT, a result that is consistent with a novel DD being located at the carboxyl-terminus. Interestingly, induction of apoptotic morphology by RELT overexpression was not prevented when signaling by FADD or Caspase-8 was blocked, indicating RELT induces apoptosis by a pathway distinct from other death-inducing TNFRs such as TNFR1. Collectively, this study provides more insights into RELT expression, RELT family member function, and the mechanism of RELT-induced death.