The many roles of FAS receptor signaling in the immune system

Immunity. 2009 Feb 20;30(2):180-92. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2009.01.001.


FAS belongs to the subgroup of the tumor necrosis factor receptor (TNF-R) family that contains an intracellular "death domain" and triggers apoptosis. Its physiological ligand FASL is a member of the TNF cytokine family. Studies with mutant mice and cells from human patients have shown that FAS plays critical roles in the immune system, including the killing of pathogen-infected cells and the death of obsolete and potentially dangerous lymphocytes. Fas thereby functions as a guardian against autoimmunity and tumor development. FAS triggers apoptosis through FADD-mediated recruitment and activation of caspase-8. In certain cells such as hepatocytes, albeit not lymphocytes, FAS-induced apoptosis requires amplification through proteolytic activation of the proapoptotic BCL-2 family member BID. Curiously, several components of the FAS signaling machinery have been implicated in nonapoptotic processes, including cellular activation, differentiation, and proliferation. This review describes current understanding of Fas-induced apoptosis signaling and proposes experimental strategies for future advances.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / immunology
  • Fas Ligand Protein / metabolism
  • Homeostasis / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immune System / immunology*
  • Signal Transduction / immunology*
  • fas Receptor / immunology*
  • fas Receptor / metabolism*


  • Fas Ligand Protein
  • fas Receptor