Principles of antibody-mediated TNF receptor activation

Cell Death Differ. 2015 Nov;22(11):1727-41. doi: 10.1038/cdd.2015.109. Epub 2015 Aug 21.


From the beginning of research on receptors of the tumor necrosis factor (TNF) receptor superfamily (TNFRSF), agonistic antibodies have been used to stimulate TNFRSF receptors in vitro and in vivo. Indeed, CD95, one of the first cloned TNFRSF receptors, was solely identified as the target of cell death-inducing antibodies. Early on, it became evident from in vitro studies that valency and Fcγ receptor (FcγR) binding of antibodies targeting TNFRSF receptors can be of crucial relevance for agonistic activity. TNFRSF receptor-specific antibodies of the IgM subclass and secondary cross-linked or aggregation prone dimeric antibodies typically display superior agonistic activity compared with dimeric antibodies. Likewise, anchoring of antibodies to cell surface-expressed FcγRs potentiate their ability to trigger TNFRSF receptor signaling. However, only recently has the relevance of oligomerization and FcγR binding for the in vivo activity of antibody-induced TNFRSF receptor activation been straightforwardly demonstrated in vivo. This review discusses the crucial role of oligomerization and/or FcγR binding for antibody-mediated TNFRSF receptor stimulation in light of current models of TNFRSF receptor activation and especially the overwhelming relevance of these issues for the rational development of therapeutic TNFRSF receptor-targeting antibodies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies / metabolism*
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Protein Multimerization
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor / metabolism*


  • Antibodies
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor