A docking model of key components of the DISC complex: death domain superfamily interactions redefined

FEBS Lett. 2001 Mar 16;492(3):171-6. doi: 10.1016/s0014-5793(01)02162-7.


Apoptosis is mediated by a highly regulated signal transduction cascade that eventually leads to precisely directed cell death. The death-inducing signaling complex (DISC), composed of Fas, FADD, and caspase-8, is an apical signaling complex that mediates receptor-induced apoptosis. We have docked the experimentally determined structures of the Fas and FADD death domains into a model of a partial DISC signaling complex. The arrangement of Fas and FADD was determined using the interaction modes of the two heterodimer crystal structures determined to date, Pelle/Tube and Apaf-1/procaspase-9. The proposed model reveals that both interactions can be accommodated in a single multimeric complex. Importantly, the model is consistent with reported site-directed mutagenesis data indicating residues throughout the domain are critical for function. These results imply that members of the death domain superfamily have the potential for multivalent interactions, offering novel possibilities for regulation of apoptotic signaling.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing*
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / physiology*
  • Carrier Proteins / chemistry
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism*
  • Caspase 8
  • Caspase 9
  • Caspases / chemistry
  • Caspases / metabolism*
  • Dimerization
  • Fas-Associated Death Domain Protein
  • Humans
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Structure, Secondary
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • fas Receptor / chemistry
  • fas Receptor / metabolism*


  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing
  • Carrier Proteins
  • FADD protein, human
  • Fas-Associated Death Domain Protein
  • fas Receptor
  • CASP8 protein, human
  • CASP9 protein, human
  • Caspase 8
  • Caspase 9
  • Caspases