Molecular Evidence for the Nuclear Localization of FADD

Cell Death Differ. 2003 Jul;10(7):791-7. doi: 10.1038/sj.cdd.4401237.


The Fas-associated death domain (FADD) adaptor protein FADD/Mort-1 is recruited by several members of the tumor necrosis factor receptor (TNFR) superfamily during cell death activated via death receptors. Since most studies have focused on the interaction of FADD with plasma membrane proteins, FADD's subcellular location is thought to be confined to the cytoplasm. In this report, we show for the first time that FADD is present in both the cytoplasm and the nucleus of cells, and that its nuclear localization relies on strong nuclear localization and nuclear export signals (NLS and NES, respectively) that reside in the death-effector domain (DED) of the protein. Specifically, we found that a conserved basic KRK35 sequence of the human protein is necessary for FADD's nuclear localization, since disruption of this motif leads to the confinement of FADD in the cytoplasm. Furthermore, we show that the leucine-rich motif LTELKFLCL28 in the DED is necessary for FADD's nuclear export. Functionally, mutation of the NES of FADD and its seclusion in the nucleus reduces the cell death-inducing efficacy of FADD reconstituted in FADD-deficient T cells.

MeSH terms

  • Active Transport, Cell Nucleus / physiology
  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing*
  • Amino Acid Sequence / physiology
  • Apoptosis / physiology*
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cell Compartmentation / genetics*
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism*
  • Cytoplasm / metabolism
  • Fas-Associated Death Domain Protein
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Jurkat Cells
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary / physiology
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • T-Lymphocytes / metabolism


  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing
  • Carrier Proteins
  • FADD protein, human
  • Fas-Associated Death Domain Protein
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor