Inactivation of TNF signaling by rationally designed dominant-negative TNF variants

Science. 2003 Sep 26;301(5641):1895-8. doi: 10.1126/science.1081297.


Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) is a key regulator of inflammatory responses and has been implicated in many pathological conditions. We used structure-based design to engineer variant TNF proteins that rapidly form heterotrimers with native TNF to give complexes that neither bind to nor stimulate signaling through TNF receptors. Thus, TNF is inactivated by sequestration. Dominant-negative TNFs represent a possible approach to anti-inflammatory biotherapeutics, and experiments in animal models show that the strategy can attenuate TNF-mediated pathology. Similar rational design could be used to engineer inhibitors of additional TNF superfamily cytokines as well as other multimeric ligands.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Substitution
  • Animals
  • Antigens, CD / metabolism
  • Apoptosis
  • Arthritis, Experimental / drug therapy
  • Biopolymers
  • Caspases / metabolism
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • Computer Simulation
  • Disease Progression
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Galactosamine / pharmacology
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Liver / drug effects
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism
  • Point Mutation
  • Protein Engineering*
  • Rats
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor / metabolism
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor, Type I
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor, Type II
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Transcription Factor RelA
  • Transcription, Genetic
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / genetics
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / pharmacology*


  • Antigens, CD
  • Biopolymers
  • NF-kappa B
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor, Type I
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor, Type II
  • Transcription Factor RelA
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Galactosamine
  • Caspases